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Reprinted from History of Connecticut with the permission of 
the States History Company, Inc. 

By Edward H. Jenkins 


Reprinted from History of Connecticut with permission of the States 
Histo'-y Company, Inc. 

"! / / 

J 4\^ 


THIS paper is rather a sketch of the course of Con- 
necticut agriculture than a complete history of it. 
A history should cover the economic, political and 
social relations which went with and greatly affected its 
practice and its prosperity. But such a history would 
of itself be a volume and not, like this, a single paper 
among many others relating to the State. 

However, great the temptation to discuss the broader 
aspects mentioned, it has been necessary therefore to con- 
fine the work simply to the story of the development of 
the art of farming, with only the barest reference to the 
economic and political conditions of its environment. 

To set forth the effect on agriculture of the expansion 
of manufacturing, the embargo and non-intercourse acts, 
the opening of the west, the development of transporta- 
tion and the six wars cannot be discussed here. 

Yet they all deeply affected the course of agriculture. 
They were like the buffetings of heavy waves, with agri- 
culture now on the peak and then in the trough of the 
sea, constantly conning the helm and trimming its sails 
to avoid shipwreck. Of course this experience is not 
peculiar to farming; all kinds of business are affected in 
the same way. But these great disturbances bore with a 
special severity on the farmer because of his inexperience 
in transacting business. For more than a century and a 
half farming was not a commercial business, but a do- 
mestic affair of each house-holder, chiefly confined to pro- 
viding food and clothing for his own family. 

Business acumen and the methods of trading have to 
be learned by long experience and they are a compara- 
tively recent acquisition of the farmer. 



It is not so long since the three courses open to young 
men were "the professions, business and farming." At 
present farming should really be a profession and a busi- 
ness in order to be a fairly successful "calling." 

Aboriginal Agriculture 

No writing or legend gives the history of agriculture 
in New England before the coming of tthe white man. 
But on a somewhat extensive scale a simple kind of agri- 
culture was certainly practiced by the Indian dwellers 
here long before the seventeenth century. 

Almost its only relics are the few crops which they 
raised, of which maize was their staple and their priceless 
bequest to their successors, a crop which they cultivated 
extensively and stored for winter use. 

This stored corn was all that stood between the first 
settlers and great scarcity of food if not of actual starva- 
tion and in the earlier days of the settlement was occasion- 
ally bought of the Indians to relieve a time of scarcity. 

It has been one our staple crops from Colonial days to 
the present and is now grown in larger quantity in the 
United States than any other. 

Maize or Indian corn had its origin in America but has 
been changed by "domestication" so that it bears no close 
resemblance to any native species now known and has 
been developed out of all fitness to survive in a wild state. 
This was probably a work of centuries by people who 
have left no other record of this work in plant breeding 
than the domesticated plants which they have handed 
down to us. 

It is a development for which we are indebted probably 
to some ancient civilization in Central or South America,. 


a development vastly more valuable than any of those of 
a modern "plant wizard." 

Of particular interest is the Maya civilization de- 
veloped in Yucatan, of which the earliest established date 
is 113 B. C, and the time of greatest development from 
455-597 A. D. The Mayas reached a high state of cul- 
ture as is shown by their monuments and inscriptions 
which have lately been studied and partly deciphered. 

They planted corn, beans and pumpkins, taking ad- 
\ antage of the wet and dry seasons to harvest two crops 
annually. Among their records are pictures of the maize- 
god, planting corn, represented frequently as a youth 
with a leafy headdress, possibly meant to represent an 
opening ear of corn. This deity appears to be at the mercy 
of the evil deities when not protected by the good (59, p. 
94). Other pictures show attacks by worms and birds, 
suggesting that the pests are as old as the plant. The zo- 
diac sign, Virgo, the Virgin, is represented in Peruvian, 
Mexican and Maya sculpture as the Maize Mother. 

Roger Williams (10) writes of the Indian tradition as 
to the source from which corn and beans came, ''These 
birds," crows, ''although they doe the corne some hurt, 
yet scarce one native amongst an hundred wil kil them, 
because they have a tradition, that the Crow brought 
them at first an Indian Graine of Corne in one Eare and 
an Indian or French Beane in another, from the great 
god Cantantowit's field in the Southwest from whence 
they hold came all their Corne and Beans." The last 
clause of this tradition is probably correct. 

Our flint, dent and sweet (45) types, the very early 
and the tall, later maturing sorts of corn were probably 
all grown by the aborigines before the settlement by white 
men. In pre-Columbian days one or more varieties were 


grown all the way from the St. Lawrence on the north to 
the Rio de la Plata on the south. 

Pumpkins, squashes, beans and peas were also grown 
by the Indians, all but the last probably indigenous to this 

"Peas" were grown by the Indians, according to the 
annalists, but the Canada pea and the field pea are old 
world plants. Possibly a Lathyrus, vetchling, or some 
small rounded bean is what is referred to. 

Before the coming of the white man there was a plenty 
of land in Connecticut well enough cleared for growing 
what crops were needed. Besides using the tidal marshes 
and the alluvial lowlands, the aborigines had also long 
practiced burning portions of the woodland to make 
easier the taking of wild game, deer and turkeys. This 
cleared the forest of underbrush and young trees. Larger 
trees, (33) were girdled by the Indians to make open 
spaces where their crops could be planted, leaving them 
ready for further improvement (24, Vol. I). 

The Narragansetts' land in Rhode Island was cleared 
of wood for eight or ten miles from the seashore and 
planted to corn (76. Vol. I). 

There is abundant evidence of large clearings else- 

Says Roger Williams, (10) "When a field is to be 
broken up, they have a very loving, sociable, speedy way 
to despatch it ; all the neighbors, men and women, forty, 
fifty, a hundred, etc. joyne, and come in to help freely." 
The field was not wholly tilled but corn was planted in 
hills 12 to 20 inches in diameter and the soil of these 
hills was all that was cultivated. The hills were used 
over and over in successive years and they have persisted 
in some places until recent times. (10). Near the sea, at 


least, fish, (menhaden) were exclusively used as a ferti- 

The implements of the Indians were very crude. Iron 
was unknown. Stone hoes and perhaps spades have been 
found. Bones, shells and wood were also used; yet it is 
said of their cultivation (78), "Wherein they exceede our 
English husbandmen, keeping it so cleare with their 
Clamme-shell hoes as if it were a garden rather than a 
Cornefield, not suffering a choaking Weede to advance 
his audacious Head above their infant Corne, or an un- 
dermining Worme to spoile his Spurnes." 

They also used a hoe made of the shoulder blade of a 
deer or a tortoise-shell, sharpened upon a stone and fas- 
tened to a stick. 

"Their corne being ripe, they gather it, and, drying 
it hard in the sunne conveigh it to their barnes, which be 
great holes digged in the ground in form of a brasse pot, 
seeled with rinds of trees, wherein they put their corne, 
covering it from the inquisitive search of their gorman- 
dizing husbands, who would eate up both their allowed 
portion, and reserved Seede if they knew where to find 
it." (78). 

Connected with aboriginal agriculture should be men- 
tioned two important plants which were not cultivated but 
were used extensively. The first is a food plant to which 
writers refer as "rice," "Indian rice," or "Canada rice," 
Zisania aqiiatica, a grass which grows commonly along 
the banks of streams and marshes and in shallow water. 
It was easily gathered in the early fall and is palatable and 
nutritious. It is still gathered and used in the stuffing of 
game birds and is esteemed a luxury. 

The other plant yielding a textile fiber, was the Indian 
hemp, Apocynum cannabinum, which grew commonly in 


this State. From the fiber of this plant the women twisted 
twine or rope and made, among other things, fish nets, 
sometimes twenty or thirty feet long (69. Vol. I). 

Oldham, in a trading trip to Connecticut in 1633, found 
that the Indian hemp grew spontaneously in the meadows 
in great abundance. "He purchased a quantity of it," it 
appeared to him ''much to exceed the hemp grown in Eng- 
land." Later writers, however, pronounced it inferior to 
the other. 

Roger Williams says, "the Indians all take tobacco, 
and it is commonly the only plant which the men labor in, 
the women managing all the rest." This was probably 
Nicotiana rustica, a smaller plant and inferior to our cul- 
tivated species. It is stated that it was grown in Canada 
as early as 1535. Flags and rushes and certain vegetable 
dyes were used for making baskets. Carrier asserts (9), 
that "a comparison, crop by crop, taking into considera- 
tion acreage and value of these products with all other 
crops now grown in the United States shows quite clearly 
that our agriculture is about one-third American." The 
agriculture of the Indians was chiefly if not wholly man- 
aged by the women. Stiles says, (61 ) , that a common ex- 
hortation at marriage was in substance, "You, man, must 
take good Care to hunt deer and fish and provide Meat 
for your Squaw. You, Squaw, must take care to plant 
and hoe Corn and bring wood and cook Victuals for your 

The Indian men are generally regarded as lazy, shift- 
less and improvident in their family life, allowing or forc- 
ing their women, who were reckoned to be inferior beings, 
to do all the drudgery. No doubt there is much of truth in 
this. Laziness, incompetence and contempt of women did 


not mark the aborigines as absolutely different from many 
of their successors in this State. 

This judgment on Indian men must be tempered by 
the following" facts : 

The woman owned all the household property of the 
family, including the tools used in farming, cooking, dress- 
ing skins and making fabrics and in many tribes food, 
skins and individual dwellings or wigwams. 

Indian descent was generally through the female line. 
Children belonged to the mother's, not the father's totem. 
In some cases a female sub-chief sold land to the settlers, 
but this, an international affair, was usually conducted 
by the male chief .^ 

The man had to be always ready to join in a foray 
against his neighbors of another tribe, or to repel a foray 
from them. He was at all times and of necessity a war- 
rior. Hunting and fishing required skill and strength. 
Thus women were the property holders of the family 
groups. Men represented the army, legislature and courts 
and did such provisioning of the family as required cap- 
ture and killing. All their work required at times pro- 
tracted labor, exposure and hunger and when the search 
for food and the defense of the property and life allowed, 
they may have been, in the language of Kipling, "most 
'scrutiating idle." When about his regular work the In- 
dian was alert, crafty and superstitious v/ith occasional 
streaks of loyalty and honor — and a reveller in all the 
arts of hideous cruelty. 

iln the allotment of land in severalty to the Indians in modern times 
one grievance w^as found to be that it was allotted to the man and not to 
his wife, contrary to their idea of what was proper. 


Agriculture in the Seventeenth Century 

The aboriginal agriculture was the root on which the 
Colonial agriculture was grafted. No attempt will be 
made to recite the events of the colonization farther than 
to note those which have a very direct bearing on agri- 
cultural development. 

It is important to consider the physical surroundings 
of the first traders and immigrants who began coming to 
Connecticut in 1631. 

The country is described as a wilderness. Its topo- 
graphical features were not very different from what 
obtains today. It was, of course, much more thickly 
wooded than now and abounded in heavy timber.^ 

There were of course no roads but only Indian trails 
and the first settlers from Massachusetts had perhaps to 
hew their way for a part of the journey. 

The territory was not, however, wholly a forest, but 
abounded as we have seen in open, roughly cleared tracts, 
suitable for cultivation and capable of increased produc- 
tion with the use of iron implements, axes, hoes and spades 
which the colonists brought with them. 

The whole area was occupied or claimed by various 
tribes of Indians who numbered, according to Trumbull's 
estimate, not less than twelve or fifteen thousand and 
possibly twenty thousand (69. Vol. I). But DeForest 
(23a), considers this much too high an estimate and holds 
that 1,200 warriors and 6,000 or 7,000 individuals is a 
liberal allowance for the aboriginal population. 

They were more numerous in Connecticut, in propor- 

2 (31) "The pine tree challengeth the next place and that sort which is 
called the Board pine is the principal ; it is a stately, large tree, very tall, 
and sometimes two or three fadoms about ; of the body the English make 
large Canows of 20 foot long, and two feet and a half over, hollowing 
them out with an adds and shaping the outside out like a boat." 


tion to area, than elsewhere in New England, for the land 
was rich in game, the waters rich in fish and the soil, in 
parts, very fertile. 

These Indians chiefly belonged to the Algonquin family 
while over the border in New York was the Iroquois 
family, or the "Six Nations." 

These families were divided into a considerable number 
of tribes. 

Thus the west shores of Narraganset Bay were peopled 
by the Narragansetts, numerous and warlike, who held 
in partial subjection the weaker Nyantics near Point Ju- 
dith. The fair dealing and tact of Roger Williams did 
much to restrain the hostility of the Narragansetts to the 
settlers. To the west of these and about the Thames River 
were the still more formidable Pequots who for fierceness 
and bravery were preeminent in southern New England. 
Westward, in the lower Connecticut valley, were the 
Monhegans, a small but valiant tribe held tributary to 
the Pequots and restive under it. There were also numer- 
ous lesser tribes within the present boundaries of this 
State, Nehantics, Quinnipiacs, Tunxis, Podunks and 
others. The thickly wooded mountain ranges between 
Connecticut and the Hudson had few inhabitants. But 
beyond., in New York, were the fierce Mohawks, dreaded 
by all the others, to whom the Mohegans paid yearly 
blackmail to avoid plunder and murder as far as possible 

Down to about the time of the first settlement of Con- 
necticut the New England settlers had experienced no 
great trouble with the Indians. 

They were at first disposed to be friendly but as the 
settlements began to be pushed further inland and some 
of their best clearings to be occupied by the invaders, even 


though the land had been fairly bought of the tribal 
chiefs, hostility increased and soon resulted in actual war. 

Of predatory wild beasts, bears, wolves, panthers, 
lynxes and foxes were very common and, as will be seen 
later, were very destructive to the livestock and crops of 
the settlers for more than a century. 

Into this country adventurers came from Massachu- 
setts in 1633 and halted at Windsor. This was a trading 
expedition and made no permanent settlement. In 1635 
about sixty men, women and children with their cows, 
horses and swine came overland from Plymouth and 
Massachusetts Colonies to the region of Hartford, start- 
ing on October 15th. They were unable to build dwellings 
before winter, their goods which were sent by sea were 
lost and most of them made their way back to Boston. 

A very few remained (10). But in 1636 Wethersfield, 
Windsor and Hartford were settled by colonists from 

The Newton (Cambridge) congregation, (38) through 
their minister. Rev. Thomas Hooker, urged from the 
authorities permission to migrate. 

The reasons given were, the crowded state of their 
lands which prevented their friends in England from join- 
ing them,^ the fertility of the Connecticut soil as reported 
by Oldham and the fact that settlement would shut out 
the Dutch who were trying to establish a claim to Con- 
necticut. 'The minds of this people were strongly in- 
clined to plant themselves there." 

Hooker wisely did not mention in his petition that there 
was considerable discontent also with the narrowness and 

3 Cotton Mather, (65. p. 17), in referring to the migration from Massa- 
chusetts, said : "Massachusetts soon became like a hive overstocked with 
bees, and many thought of swarming into other plantations." 


strictness of the Winthrop-Cotton administration in 

Permission was rather grudgingly given and a migra- 
tion followed, apparently in three companies. One, of one 
hundred persons, mainly from Dorchester, Mass., jour- 
neyed overland in fourteen days and settled in Windsor. 
The second company, mainly from Watertown, Mass., 
probably went from Boston by water to Wethersfield. 
The third made their way overland with 160 head of cattle 
"and fed of their milk on the way," and settled in Hart- 
ford. "Women and children took part in this pleasant 
summer journey which lasted about two weeks." Mrs. 
Hooker, being ill was carried in a horse litter (26). In 
the following year 800 people were living in these towns 
(or settlements), forming the Colony of Connecticut. 

In 1638 the town of New Haven was founded under 
the leadership of Davenport and Eaton, which soon be- 
came the republic of New Haven, including Mil ford and 
Stamford, to which Southold on Long Island and Bran- 
ford were afterwards added (26). Prior to 1640 there 
were at least nine settlements made, four on the Connecti- 
cut River and five others on the shore of Long Island 
Sound. In the next decade five others were made on the 
Sound shore and one inland. Between 1650 and 1685 
eleven new settlements were made, three on the Connecti- 
cut River, one on the seashore and seven not on navigable 
waters. From 1685 to 1700 eight settlements were made 
along the eastern side of the State as far north as Wind- 
ham and two other inland settlements. The harbors of 
New London, Saybrook, New Haven, Stratford, Bridge- 
port, Norwalk and Greenwich were all occupied. 

Thus, in the seventeenth century at least thirty-eight 
settlements were made in Connecticut, eighteen on navi- 


gable waters and twenty inland. Three of the thirty- 
eight, however, were "set off" from previous settlements. 
By 1660 practically all the shore from the Connecticut 
River to the New York boundary was settled, most of the 
Connecticut River border as far north as Windsor and an 
area from New London north above Plainfield. By 1675 
these boundaries were considerably expanded but shrank 
again somewhat, following King Philip's war and ex- 
panded rapidly afterwards. In Lois Matthews', "The Ex- 
pansion of New England," (38), this is very clearly illus- 
trated by maps. By about 1732 practically the whole State 
was included in settlements or districts claimed by the 
several communities. 

Dwight, (24, Vol. I) says that "exclusively of the 
country of the Pequots,* the inhabitants of Connecticut 
bought, unless I am deceived, every inch of land contained 
within that colony, of its native proprietors." The same 
thing was stated by Governor Winslow in 1676 regarding 
Massachusetts settlements in his report to the English 
Committee on Trade and Plantations (26). 

This sale and transfer of lands from the Indian chiefs 
was effected by deeds duly signed and witnessed. Thus 
in 1638 Quinnipiac, now New Haven, was bought of the 
chief Momauguin, subject to certain rights of hunting, 
for one dozen coats, the same number of hoes, hatchets 
and porringers, two dozen knives and four cases of 
French knives and scissors. 

A little later more land was bought for thirteen English 
coats (30, Vol. I). The colonists thus obtained a tract 
more than ten miles wide from north to south and thirteen 
long from east to west, since divided into Branford, East 

* The Pequots were nearly exterminated in the Pequot war in 1637. 


and North Haven, Woodbridge, Wallingford and Ches- 

It has been said that the prices paid, always in com- 
modities, were ridiculously small. Ridiculously small the 
price appears now but the bargain was the free act of the 
chiefs who, we may believe, considered that some warm 
clothing and useful tools were worth more to them at the 
moment than 130 square miles of wilderness in which 
they still retained some rights. 

Part of the later trouble with the Indians probably 
arose from their misunderstanding of the nature of a 
deed. In general they may have regarded it as conferring 
only the right to live, hunt and fish in common with them- 
selves, not as in any way the extinction of their own for- 
mer rights. 

Earlier a fort had been built at Saybrook, for defense 
against the Dutch, and a grant of lands made under the 
Warwick patent of 1631. 

This was bought by the colony in 1644 from Fenwick, 
agent of the proprietors.^ 

The Connecticut colonists, almost wholly English, con- 
sisted chiefly of squires and yeomen, united rather closely 
in thought and purpose. There were a few indented serv- 
ants or "redemptioners" paying for their voyage to Amer- 
ica by service, who in time became independent citizens 
and a few slaves employed almost wholly in domestic 
service (26). 

But it was a community holding substantially the same 

5 The seal of the colony and later of the state, was probably given to 
it, perhaps at that time, by Fenwick. Originally it represented a vineyard 
of fifteen vines and above them a hand, issuing from clouds, holding a 
label with the motto, "Sustinet qui transtulit." To carry out the idea of the 
vineyard we may translate, without doing more violence to transtulit than 
was done by Columella and Varro. "He who has transplanted maintains." 

This seal has since been variously modified, as described in the Report 
of the State Librarian, for 1912. 


religious dogmas, the same political principles and a com- 
mon heritage. 

The desire for religious and political freedom was the 
chief motive which drove the first Pilgrims and Puritans 
across the Atlantic, but probably the greater number who 
followed them saw in the vast unoccupied lands of the new 
world a chance to make a living unhindered by the tur- 
moils of Europe, and the settlers of Connecticut, as we 
have seen, urged as a reason for their migration the need 
of room for further expansion. 

The settlers in Connecticut, as in New England gener- 
ally, with the exception of New Hampshire, unlike those 
in colonies further south, were owners in fee simple of the 
lands they occupied. 

Community of tillage, to meet their most pressing want 
of food, had been tried in the mother colony but had been 
found less effective than private managment of personally 
owned land. 

Individual holdings were at once set off, and for a good 
while there was much undivided common land used by all 
the proprietors for pasturage, timber, etc., but there were 
frequent difficulties connected with this ownership in com- 
mon which are witnessed by frequent acts of the General 
Court. Thus very early it was ordered by the towns of 
Wethersfield, Hartford and Windsor that five able and 
discreet men from each town should ''take the common 
lands belonging to each of the several towns into serious 
and sadd consideration and after a thorough digestion of 
their own thoughts, set down under their own hands in 
what way the said lands may, in their judgments, be best 
improved for the common good." 

The boundaries of the individual allotments were not 
very difficult to determine, but those of the separate settle- 


ments and towns and of the colony it was impossible to 
fix accurately for many years. (The exact boundary line 
between a portion of Rhode Island and Connecticut was 
first finally determined under Governor Baldwin's ad- 
ministration, 1911-1915). 

Dwight, (24, Vol. II, 498) describes the settlement of 
a dispute regarding land claimed by both New London 
and Lyme in 1664. The distance, danger and expense 
attending an appeal to the seat of government, decided 
the disputants to settle the matter by a combat between 
two champions selected by each of them. "On a day mu- 
tually appointed, the champions appeared in the field ; and 
fought with their fists, till victory declared in favor of 
each of the Lyme combatants. Lyme then took possession 
of the controverted tract and has held it undisputed to 
the present day." 

It appears that either this dispute was not finally settled 
by this trial by combat, or that some new boundary dis- 
pute arose, for about the year 1671 there was a "riot" be- 
tween about thirty New London men who went to Black 
Point to mow grass for their minister and a party from 
Lvme who had come on a similar errand.® 

There was a conflict of tongues, rakes, scythes, clubs 
and fisticuffs ; the voice of the constable was heard in the 
land — and disregarded. No one was killed though some 
were bruised. Peacemakers finally prevailed and it was 
agreed to leave the matter to the courts. "So drinking a 
dram together with some seeming friendship, every man 
departed to his home." But both parties were indicted for 
assault, violence and riotous practices. As it was difficult 
to get an impartial jury in that neighborhood the accused 

_ 8 This land, 325 acres, had been sequestered in 1671 to the use of the 
ministry forever (11). In 1668 the same land had been reserved by Lyme 
for the support of their minister. 


were tried in Hartford. Both parties were fined and the 
fines subsequently remitted. 

Regarding the civil government in the colonies; The 
New Haven Colony was extremely theocratic in its char- 
acter. Only church members had the franchise and this in 
New Haven itself excluded one-half of the inhabitants 
from a share in the government. Each town was governed 
by seven ecclesiastics, known as "Pillars of the Church." 
They served as judges without juries because no authority 
for trial by jury was found in the laws of Moses. 

The Connecticut Colony was much less strict in its 
views of civil government. In the first year it was gov- 
erned by Massachusetts, but immediately thereafter a 
General Court was held in Hartford, May 31, 1638, and 
on May 14, 1639, all the freemen of the towns met in 
Hartford and adopted a written constitution. "It was 
the first written constitution known to history, that cre- 
ated a government and it marked the beginnings of 
American democracy." It made no reference to the king 
of England or any other government. Under it all rights 
and powers not expressly given to the General Court 
were reserved to the towns. It did not prescribe church 
membership as a condition for the right of suffrage.^ 

In 1643 the four Colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, 
Connecticut and New Haven formed a league, "The 
United Colonies of New England," including thirty-nine 
towns with 24,000 inhabitants. The League was given 
entire control of dealings with the Indians and with for- 
eign powers and the administration was committed to 

■f "The remarkable document, though deserving all the encomiums passed 
upon it, was not a constitution in any modern sense of the word and es- 
tablished nothing fundamentally new, because the form of government it 
outlined differed only in certain particulars from that of Massachusetts and 
Plymouth." "Later courts never hesitated to change the articles without 
referring the changes to the planters." (3) 


eight Federal Commissioners, two from each colony, all 
to be church members. No permission was asked from 
the home government. In 1661 a charter was granted 
by Charles I to New Haven, but by it the colony was 
annexed to its stronger neighbor, Connecticut, thus re- 
ducing the number of the United Colonies to three. 

The League continued till 1684 when the Massa- 
chusetts charter was revoked by Charles 11. In 1687 
Charles also revoked the Connecticut charter, but it was 
never surrendered, and as the order for the surrender 
of the charter was never enrolled it remained in force 
and Connecticut was governed under it until 1818. 

Concerning the relations with the mother country, we 
see that the first settlements were made in the reign of 
Charles I who, on the whole, was rather glad to get rid 
of a lot of religious cranks and radicals moved to a wild- 
erness across an ocean and three thousand miles from 
England where they could praise God and fight savages 
after their own fashion. He was willing to give them 
charters and then to be rid of them while he reigned with- 
out a parliament from 1649 to 1660. 

Then followed the Commonwealth and the Protector- 
ate when little thought could be given to 

" * * * that small colony 
Of pinched fanatics, who would rather choose 
Freedom to clip an inch more from their hair, 
Than the great chance of setting England free." 

This was a period of prosperity and undisturbed 
growth. But soon after the accession of Charles II the 
seeds of disafifection were sown which resulted in the 
revolution about a century later. 

The story of the protection of the regicides in New 


Haven and elsewhere, of religious differences, of the 
work of Andross and Randolph, the attempted annulment 
of the charter, etc., need not be repeated here. 

"The four years from 1684 to 1688 were the darkest 
years in the history of New England." (Fiske). The 
advent of King William and Queen Mary in 1689 closed 
the long struggle with the Stuarts and lessened the ten- 
sion between the Colonies and the mother country. 

Such, in very brief outline, was the physical and polit- 
ical environment of Colonial agriculture in this Colony in 
the seventeenth century. Before it was settled the land 
was a wilderness except where it had been partially 
cleared and subdued by the crude methods of the Indians. 
The colonists' farming tools were no ''better than had 
the farmers of Julius Caesar's day; in fact, the Roman 
ploughs were probably superior to those in general use in 
America eighteen centuries later." 

"The mass of production shows no radical difference 
from that in ages long past." (2) "The Saxon farmer 
of the eighth century enjoyed most of the comforts 
known to Saxon farmers of the eighteenth." 

But the spiritual comfort, the freedom from vassalage 
and other forms of tyranny and the joy of self-govern- 
ment made the Connecticut colonist a totally different 
being from the eighth century peasant. 

Nevertheless the earlier years were a fierce struggle 
against starvation and murderous attack, demanding al- 
most continual manual labor from all members of the 
community, men, women and children alike. 

It is not possible now to give any very precise picture 
of the every day life of the early settlers or of the course 
of their agriculture. 

"There is but a slender residue from the vicissitudes 


o£ history to throw any sufficient Hght upon some of the 
habits, practices and daily concerns of the colonists in the 
ordinary routine of their existence." 

The first care of the settlers was naturally a provision 
for continuous food supply after the store of provisions 
which they brought from Massachusetts was exhausted. 
Wheat/ rye and pease had been grown in the Massa- 
chusetts and Plymouth Colonies, but the main reliance at 
first was Indian corn. The reasons are obvious. They 
had abundance of seed, they knew from the Indian ex- 
perience that it yielded well and the method of planting 
and cultivating had been learned from the Indians by the 
settlers at Plymouth, "being instructed in the manner 
thereof by the forenamed Squanto."^ 

As to the method of planting corn, Peters, writing in 
1781 says, "Maize is planted in hillocks three feet apart, 
five kernels and two pumpkin seeds in a hillock and be- 
tween the hills are planted ten beans in a hillock. One 
man plants one acre a day, in three days he hoes the same 
three times and six days more suffice for plowing and 
gathering the crop. The whole expense is thirty shillings 
and allowing ten shillings for use of land, the whole ex- 
pense is two pounds, while corn is worth two shillings per 
bushel." He figures that the gain is seldom less than 300 
and often 600 per cent. "It is thus that the poor man be- 
comes rich in a few years," — and it is thus that a parson 
;figures profits for the farmer. But this description of the 
way of planting corn, though written in the following 

8 In the third generation of farmers wheat had almost passed out of 
cultivation and was got chiefly from New York and the southern planta- 

9 Squanto, an Indian who had been carried to England, it is said, by 
Waymouth, learned the English language and was afterwards returned to 
his native home, Plymouth. He "proved a special instrument of God for 
their good, beyond expectation; he directed them in planting their corn, 
where to take their fish and to procure their commodities." (42) 


century and by one to whom Ananias and Munchausen 
were mere tyros, is substantially correct judging by other 
accounts and was probably followed from the beginning ; 
being adopted from the Indian practice. It is noted in the 

old rhyme : 

One for the bug, 
One for the crow, 
One to rot, 
And two to grow. 

At first fish was the only fertilizer. Three or four fish, 
(menhaden), were put in a hill "and in them they plant 
their maize which grows as luxuriantly therein as though 
it were the best manure in the world ; and if they do not 
lay fish therein the maize will not grow, so that such is 
the nature of the soil." (42) 

The colonists brought seed of other cultivated crops 
with them for in 1638 among the supplies requisitioned 
for the force engaged in the Pequot war are mentioned 
corn, oats, pease and rice, see page — (63, Vol. I). 

The colonists, while they were at first chiefly dependent 
on Indian corn, wanted wheat to which they were more 
accustomed and in 1640 (9) it was ordered, to promote 
the production of English grain, that every farmer for 
every team he owned could have one hundred acres of 
plow land and twenty of meadow if he seeded twenty 
acres the first year, eighty the second and the whole one 
hundred the third. 

Of the gardens of the early settlers in New England 
almost the only account is that of John Josselyn in 1672. 
(32). (Wood, 78). These accounts do not specifically 
refer to Connecticut but probably conditions were quite 
alike in all the New England Colonies. 

"Of such garden Herbs, (amongst us) as do thrive 


there, Cabbage, Lettice, Carrats, Parsnips of a prodigious 
size, Red Beetes, Radishes, Turnips, Wheat,'" Barley," 
Oats, Pease of all sorts and the best in the world, and 
Beans. In the gardens Josslyn also finds Sorrel, Parsley, 
Marygold, French Mallowes, Burnet, Winter and Summer 
Savory, Time, Sage, and — Purslain, (May Allah blot 
it out). Red and black currants were grown and goose- 
berries "grow all over the countrie" (31). Coriander, 
Dill, "annis," "sparagus," Pepper wort, "Tansie," cucum- 
bers and melons also grew. 

Obviously the settlers very quickly provided themselves 
with a variety of vegetable foods and with "English roses 
very pleasantly." 

There was also an abundance of fruit; plums, wild 
cherries and various berries growing everywhere. Car- 
rier, (10), quotes Roger Williams, "In some parts where 
the natives have planted, I have many times seen as many 
(strawberries) as would fill a good ship within a few 
miles compasse : the Indians bruise them in a mortar and. 
mix them with meale and make a strawberry bread." 

Josselyn, in 1638-1639, found no apple or pear trees 
anywhere except on Governor's Island in Boston harbor 
where he got "half a score of very fair pippins." But on 
his second voyage, thirty years later, he says that the 
finest trees prosper abundantly, apple, quince, cherry, 
plum and barberry and "the country is replenished with 
fair and large orchards." 

Perhaps the most particular account is that of the or- 
chard of Henry Wolcott in Windsor. This was in bearing 

10 Both winter and summer wheat were grown, the former accepted for 
taxes at five shillings, the latter at four shillings per bushel, with com at 
two shillings six pence. 

11 As early as 1646 barley was grown in Wethersfield, probably chiefly 
used for making malt for beer, an article of general consumption. (64) 


before 1649. Summer Pippin, Holland Pippin, Pearmain, 
"Belly Bonds" (Belle et Bonne), and London Pippin are 
varieties named. He also sold orchard trees, both apple 
and pear, as early as 1650. (65). The price of apples fell 
in Windsor from eight shillings the bushel in 1650 to two 
shillings sixpence to three shillings in 1654. 

Josselyn was told by Wolcott that he made five hun- 
dred hogsheads of "syder" from his own orchard in one 
year, sold for ten shillings per hogshead, and that in 
1654 he got 1,588 bushels of apples from his own orchard. 
Cider, beer and other spirituous liquors were drunk in 
large quantities in the Colony, Cider and beer were the 
^common table beverages. Tea and coffee were very rarely 
to be had before 1700 if at all. 

"It has been truly said that fruit growing in America 
had its beginning and for almost two hundred years its 
whole sustenance in the demand for strong drink." 

"As early as 1643 there was a weekly market in Hart- 
ford and many towns established fairs or markets held 
once or twice a year for the sale or barter of all kinds of 

The houses of the early settlers, according to Hollister, 
(30), were of wood and those of the more prosperous, 
after the first thirty years, were framed. The frames 
were of heavy oak timbers, some of them eighteen inches 
in diameter. The rafters were larger than the sills or 
beams of present day houses and supported slit sticks, 
.called "ribs," to which were fastened long, reft, cedar 
shingles. The siding was of oak clapboards, reft and 
;smoothed. Only the sides of the rooms were plastered. 
The floors were of oak. The windows were of two small 
leaden frames with diamond-shaped panes and hinges 
opening outwards. The outer doors were of double oaken 


planks, made as solid as a single piece by nails or spikes 
driven into them in the angles of diamonds. The rooms 
were seldom over seven feet high, with enormous fire 
places and a stone chimney. The buildings "are generally 
of wood, some of stone or brick, many of good strength 
and comelynesse, for a wilderness." (15, III. 1680). 

Time was reckoned by farmers according to the work- 
ing seasons as well as by the calendar. Events happened 
at "sweet corn time," "at the beginning of hog time," 
"since Indian harvest," etc. (3) 

The need of textiles was early felt. In 1640, (15. pp. 
61, 64, 79), every family was required to get and plant 
at least one spoonful of English hemp seed in good soil, 
at least a foot between each seed "and tend it in husbandly 
manner." The next year each family that kept a team 
was to sow one rood of hemp or flax. Every family which 
keeps cows, heifers or steers was to sow twenty perches. 
Every family with no cattle shall sow ten perches and 
tend it properly and every family was to provide at least 
half a pound of hemp or flax. 

In 1675 (15), to encourage the production of rape 
oil, the monopoly of its manufacture was given to Wil- 
liam Roswell for ten years. 

The Court gave a subsidy of two shillings per acre per 
annum to each person sowing cole seed up to eighty acres. 
This was to continue for ten years. Tobacco was grown 
prior to 1640 and in that year an act forbade the "drink- 
ing of tobacco." Later a statute restricted its use to that 
grown "within these liberties." This act was repealed 
four years later. In 1680 a duty of two pence per pound 
was levied on imported tobacco. In 1680, (15, Vol. Ill), 
the Colonial authority reports, "Most people plant as 
much tobacco as they spend." Honey was raised in 


Wethersfield as early as 1648. In 1650 an inventory in- 
cludes "11 skipp of bees," valued at nine pounds, (40, p. 

The colonists very quickly supplied themselves with 
cereals and vegetables. Naturally to get an adequate sup- 
ply of live stock required much more time. The first set- 
tlers from Massachusetts brought with them one hundred 
and sixty head of live stock and later settlers no doubt 
brought many more. Wild hogs are mentioned in the 
early records which may have been relics of the first ad- 
venture to Windsor in 1633 to 1635. Breeding naturally 
increased the number of swine more quickly than of 
dairy stock and as early as 1637 pork was one of the sup- 
plies furnished to the force which fought the Pequots. 

The keeping of dairy stock, sheep and horses was handi- 
capped by the scarcity of good hay land and pasture. 
Eliot notes, (25), that the first settlers by tide water had 
so much salt marsh mowing that they improved the land 
nearest at hand and when, with growing population more 
was needed for meadow they made use of old land without 
breaking up more. 

Salt marsh is neither good pasture nor is its hay the 
most suitable for feed. Of the meadow and pasture 
grasses at present used in Connecticut all, with possibly 
one or two exceptions are introduced species (10). To 
establish good mow land or even good pasture in a new 
country, having only rather inferior herbage, was a work 
of considerable time. Even in Eliot's time good hay was 

In the revision of the Colony laws in 1672 to 1673 an 
act required every male between forty and seventy, fit 
for labor, excepting certain. magistrates or ruling elders, 
physicians and school teachers, to work for one day in 


June, cutting and clearing land as directed by the selectmen 
for the encouraging of sheep raising. Nine years later 
the law was modified, authorizing the townsmen to call 
forth their inhabitants at such time as they think best to 
kill the brush. 

Before considering what was wrought by this colony 
of farmers in the first sixty or seventy years of their 
struggle with the wilderness there should be noticed in 
particular some of the hindrances and obstacles to prog- 
ress which had to be overcome. 

As has been said their field and garden tools, either 
brought from England or else made on the same pattern 
at home, were of the simplest sort ; none of them, except 
a clumsy plow, of a kind to use with draft animals. Sow- 
ing, cultivating and harvesting were all done by hand. 

Their farming tools, moreover, were of a kind designed 
for tilling soil long under cultivation, not for subduing 
forest land or scrub growth. 

Though at first, as a rule, the Indians were not very 
unfriendly to the colonists, their attitude soon changed. 
The pushing of settlements inland incommoded the In- 
dians. They had further embarrassed themselves by part- 
ing with much of their cleared land and these things, to- 
gether with their innate joy of plunder, murder and tor- 
ture soon made them a menace to the settlers. Robbery 
and murder became frequent. 

The Connecticut settlements were chiefly harassed by 
the Pequots and in May, 1637 an expedition left Saybrook 
and near Groton met the Pequots in their fortified place 
and after a severe fight killed nearly seven hundred of 
them, only five escaping alive (26). 

But another account says that in the Pequot fight at 
''Mistick" at daybreak they took the fort after two hours' 

%' A r, 


fighting, by firing it, slew the two chief sachems, one 
hundred and fifty fighting men and one hundred and fifty 
old men, women and children, with the loss of two 
Englishmen. (65). 

Hon. John H. Perry, in a paper on "The Great Swamp 
Fight in Fairfield" states that the remnant of the Pequot 
nation immediately started to migrate to the Hudson and 
passing westward was overtaken and besieged in a swamp 
in Fairfield. There were eighty strong men with two 
hundred women and children. Loath to destroy the women 
and children, under a truce two hundred old men, women 
and children were allowed to come out and surrender. 
After a fight, not very sanguinary, about sixty or seventy 
Indians broke through and escaped. This ended all 
trouble with the Pequots. 

After this there was no further organized fighting 
with the Indians for thirty-eight years. 

The expedition from Saybrook was provisioned from 
the various Connecticut settlements and commanded by 
Captain John Mason who reports, (5), "Our commons 
were very short, there being a general scarcity throughout 
the colony of all sorts of provisions" — "we had but one 
pint of strong liquors among us in our whole march" — 
"(the bottle of liquor being in my hand) and when it was 
empty the very smelling to the bottle would recover such 
as had fainted away, which happened by the extremity of 
the heat." 

In spite of this victory, individual cases of robbery and 
murder were not infrequent and the farmer needed to 
keep his weapons constantly ready for use. As when Ne- 
hemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, "Every one of 
them with one of his hands wrought in the work and with 
the other hand held a weapon." In 1643 it was noted that 


"The order for one in each family to bring his arms to 
the meeting house every Sabbath hath not been fully at- 
tended to." 

King Phillip's war began in 1674 and in this the Narra- 
gansetts joined. 

The Great Swamp Fight, near Kingston, Rhode Island 
decisively defeated the Indians but in 1676 Philip was 
again on the war path and there were massacres in Massa- 
,chusetts and Rhode Island; but in June, in a series of 
fights, three or four hundred of the Narragansetts were 
killed and later in the year Philip himself was hunted 
down and killed. By 1688 the Indians were generally sup- 
pressed (26). But Dwight (24, Vol. I), states that with 
the Indians the colonists had to contend from 1675 till 
1783 and within this period there were seven wars with 
them; five stimulated by the French, King Philip's war 
and the revolution. 

In King Philip's war little damage was done in this 
state but its armed forces were used in defending other 
regions from the common enemy. 

Besides the threat from the Indians, wild animals were 
a great annoyance and did much damage so that bounties 
were almost continually offered for their destruction. In 
Windsor in 1647, (5), a panther killed nine sheep in a 
yard. He was tracked and killed for which a bounty of 
five pounds was paid as allowed by law. Wolves were the 
most common and persistent pests. From the beginning 
to the end of the century bounties were paid for their de- 
struction ranging from eight to thirty-two shillings per 
head. In 1640 by the town of Hartford *Tt is ordered yt 
Learance Woodward shall spend his Time abought kil- 
ling of wolf es & for his Incoragmentt he shall have 4s 6d 
a weeke for his bord in casse he kill not a wolfe or a 


deare in ye weake ; but if he kill a wolf or a deare he is to 
pay for his bord himselfe & if he kill a deare we are to 
Have it for 2d a pound," (14, VI). (Fearlessly this 
scribe flouts all old world traditions in matters of orthog- 
raphy and blazes a new way for the speller, with the 
freedom of the new world, to the joy of his readers in all 

In 1693 Stratford voted a wolf hunt, with a bounty of 
three shillings per day for horse and man. A day was 
set, all to be ready at seven A. M. on the hill at the meet- 
ing house by the beat of the drum. No record is given of 
the killing (49, p. 289). 

Blackbirds were also a nuisance and a bounty of ten 
shillings per thousand was paid for their destruction. 
Even flocks of wild pigeons were destructive to grain. 

As early as 1644 wheat blasted in Connecticut and New 
Haven, (75, I. ), and in 1679, (15, III.), there is com- 
plaint made of "an unaccountable blast on wheat and 
pease." Later in an election sermon, (15, III.), reference 
is made to God's smiting with "blasts, mildews, cater- 
pillars, worms, tares, floods and droughts." 

In a report by the Governor to the British Committee 
for Trade and Foreign Plantations, he says: "Besides 
for sundry years past the holy providence of God hath 
smitten us year after yeare & these three or four yeares 
past there is a worm breads in sd. pease which doth much 
damnify them so that we are like, (by reason of said 
losses at home and the heightened price of goods from 
abroad), to remain a poor but loyal people." 

There were besides, the usual vagaries of weather and 
miscalculation of the crops most needed, which caused 
serious discomfort. 

In 1637 there was scarcity of corn due to Indian dis- 


turbances and the absence of men engaged in the Indian 
war. The colonists were forced to buy corn of the In- 
dians in Massachusetts. Corn rose to twelve shillings 
per bushel, but fifty canoes came down later from Deer- 
field, Mass., which gave great relief. Again in 1638, 
(15, I.), it was necessary to import corn which it was 
ordered to "goe" at five shillings six-pence in money, in 
wampums at three a penny, six shillings per bushel, or 
in beaver at nine shillings per pound. 

In 1643 Winthrop reports that corn was very scarce 
all over the country because of a cold, wet season, ravages 
of pigeons and mice in the barns. The mice also damaged 
orchards by girdling the trees. 

But the next year there was a glut of corn, prices fell 
and the growers were forbidden by the General Court to 
sell ''out of the river" except to two agents who were to 
pay four shillings per bushel for wheat and three for corn 
and rye and who undertake to transport it over seas. 
This overproduction may have been due, in part at least, 
to the extraordinary bounty offered in 1640. The mer- 
chants are to pay on the return of the ship or as soon as 
return may be otherwise made in the best and most 
suitable English commodities. Subsequent lawsuits prove 
the failure of the scheme. This was the end of the first 
"pool," undertaken to foil the "middleman" and by gov- 
ernment action to sustain prices in a time of over-produc- 

In 1662 it was forbidden to convey away out of this 
river any corn or provision from any plantation on this 
river. 1675 was another lean year as far as the staple 
corn was concerned. The Colony, in reply to the Massa- 
chusetts authorities, say they will supply what provision 
for the army as they can, "but corn being very scarce with 


us and the seat of war within our borders, we cannot do 
all that is desired." 

Regarding the population of Connecticut in this century 
we have no exact figures. The most reliable estimate is 
as follows (72, p. 9) : 

In 1640 2,000 1680 13,000 

1650 6,000 1690 18,000 

1660 8,000 1700 24,000 
1670 10,000 

"We compute the Indian neighbors of this Colony to 
be about 500 fighting men" (1680). At this time there 
were not above thirty slaves in the Colony. 

In a community without extensive trade or business 
relations with other sections of the country, a community 
almost exclusively engaged in tilling the land and business 
immediately concerned with it, current money was scarce. 
We find therefore in the records of the General Court and 
of town governments schedules of rates at which country 
produce might be used for payment of a part (often one- 
third) of taxes. 

Thus the highest exchange price for winter wheat was 
five shillings per bushel, in 1677 and 1698. The lowest 
was four shillings in 1653. 

Corn exchange prices ranged from two to four shill- 
ings, rye and pease from two to three shillings sixpence 
per bushel (15, III). Apples were quoted in 1653 at two 
and a half to three shillings per bushel. 

It remains to consider the condition of agriculture in 
the Colony at the end of the seventeenth century. The 
condition of agriculture was the condition of the Colon>, 
for while the settlers on the sea and river coasts began 


trading and commerce/^ yet agriculture, with lumbering, 
stock raising and dairying as the chief business aside 
from tillage crops was the almost universal employment. 

The State was secured against the Indians and was in- 
creasing in population and the area of tilled land. There 
is no evidence of an improvement in the farming tools 
used. The food crops and the vegetables of England were 
raised with success and productive orchards had been 
established. The quality of the meadows and pastures 
was very poor, there being no meadow grasses which 
were well suited for dairy stock. 

Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts writes in 1660 
to an English correspondent (37, VIII), "Now the coun- 
try doth send out great store of biscott, flower, peas, 
beife, butter and other provisions to the supply of Bar- 
bados, Newfoundland and other places, ate." "This 
country is now well stored with horses, cowes, shepe and 
goates." No doubt the production and commerce of the 
older Colony was much larger than that of Connecticut 
but Connecticut shared in the general prosperity of the 
New England Colonies. 

In the same year Maverick (cited by Whedon, 75), 
says, "For the southern part it is incredible what has been 
done there." "All through the land there was plenty of 
pears, apples and other fruit, muskmelons, watermelons, 

A fair idea of the progress of agriculture may be 
gleaned from the report of the Governor of the British 
Committee on Trade and Foreign Plantations in 1680. 
He states that the commodities of the country are peas, 
rye, barley, Indian corn and pork, beef, wool, hemp, flax, 

12 In 1680 there were 27 vessels owned in the state, the largest of 90 
tons, with a total tonnage of 1,030 engaged in trade from river and coast 


cider, perry and tar; deal boards, pipe staves, horses. 
What was produced above the local demand was mostly 
transported to Boston and there bartered for clothing, 
though some small quantity was shipped to Barbados, 
Jamaica and other of the West Indies and there bartered 
for sugar, cotton and rum. For material for shipping 
there is good timber of oak, pine and spruce for masts, 
oak and pine boards, tar, pitch and hemp. "We are but 
a poor people, we have lost and spent much of said estates 
in the last Indian war. Said expense with our loss cannot 
be estimated less than 30,000 pounds and no other ad- 
vantage gained by it than the riddance of some of our 
bad neighbors . . . For the most part we labor in tilling 
the ground and by that time a year's . . . and labor hath 
gathered some small parcel of provision and it is trans- 
ported to the market at Boston and then half a crown 
will not produce so much goods of any sort as ten pence 
within England." 

"We cannot guess as to the number of acres unsettled. 
Most that is fitt for planting is taken up. What remaynes 
must be subdued and gained out of the fire as it were, by 
hard blowes and for smal recompense" (15, Vol, III). 

The history of agriculture in Connecticut would not be 
quite complete without this note. In 1644 "The proposi- 
tion for the releife of poore schollars att Cambridg was 
fully approved of, and thereupon it was ordered, thatt 
Josua Attwater and William Davis shall receive of every 
one in this plantation whose hart is willing to contribute 
thereunto a peck of wheat or the value of itt." In 1645 
Mr. Attwater reported that he had sent from Connecticut 
forty bushels of wheat for the college at Cambridge 
although he had not received so much. In 1647 "The 
Governor propounded that the Colledge corne mi^ht be 


forthwith paid — it will be a reproach that it shall be 
said New Haven is falne off from this service." 

It is interesting to note the attitude of the legislative 
body towards tobacco and alcoholic beverages in the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and to compare it 
with the attitude at the present time. 

Tobacco was grown in the Colony as early as 1644, 
rum was imported from the West Indies and later made 
in the State from the juice of cornstalks, though never to 
any great extent. Intoxicants were freely used in the 
community by clergymen and all classes of their parish- 
ioners. President Stiles of Yale College enumerates 
among the wonderful orderings of divine Providence 
which conspire towards the establishing of the indepen- 
dence of America, "Heaven has led us to the successful 
experiment on corn stalks from whence it is probable may 
be made an abundant supply of molasses and rum for this 
whole continent." Cider was a common beverage in the 
family and was not by any means a spiritless drink. 
Licenses were required for selling strong liquors and 
the maximum prices were fixed by statute (15, IV). 

Captain John Mason, as we have seen, found use for 
strong liquor in the Pequot War. In 1780 Congress called 
for army supplies from this state and among them were 
named 68,558 gallons of rum. 

But tobacco, so vigorously condemned by that miso- 
capnic sovereign, James I, in his Counterblaste of 
Tobacco, was barred by the Colony. 

In 1647 it was ordered that no one shall take tobacco 
publicly on the street or in fields or woods unless wher he 
is on a journey of at least ten miles, or at the time of 
repast commonly called dinner, or if not taken then, not 
above once a day at most, and then not in company with 


any other. By the code of 1650 persons under twenty-one 
and all others not already accustomed to it were forbid- 
den to use the weed without a physician's certificate. No 
one could publicly use tobacco on streets, highways, in 
barns, or on training days in any public place. There 
was however a gradual decline in tobacco morals for in 
1680 its use was restricted to that grown in the Colony 
and in the next century tobacco became a considerable 
article of export and inspectors were appointed to see that 
only merchantable tobacco was sold. 

In the twentieth century the pendulum which marks 
the effort to promote temperance in individuals by legisla- 
tive acts has swung to the other extreme. Tobacco is used 
everywhere by clergymen, physicians and all classes in 
the community, both men and women, but the making, 
selling or carrying of any alcoholic beverage or bringing 
it within one hour's steaming distance of 

" * * * thee, 
Sweet land of Liberty" 

is contrary to the Constitution and statute and punishable 
by fine and imprisonment. 

It would seem that the pendulum could hardly swing 
further in either direction and may come back to the re- 
gion of temperance in habits, legislation and language. 

Agriculture in the Eighteenth Century 
This period witnessed great changes in Connecticut,, 
political, religious and economic. 

The danger of extermination by Indians was wholly 
past. They continued for some time to be a plague, in- 
clined to plunder, but in' 1763 the Governor reports 


(Appendix to the Public Records), that the Indians are 
"in peace, good order and inclined to idleness." 

Nor was the Colony any longer threatened by a very 
dangerous lack of food. 

Trade increased and manufacturing began on a mod- 
erate scale. 

As late as 1790 it is probable (72) that nine out of 
every ten bread winners in the State were engaged in some 
form of agriculture. A century later only three out of 
ten. At the close of this century ninety-eight out of every 
one hundred of the New England population could trace 
their origin to England in the narrowest sense. 

The following figures of population in Connecticut 

(72) "may be accepted as expressing the best judgment 

of students of history and statistics at the present time" 


In 1700 24.000 1750 100,000 

1710 31,000 1760 142,000 

1720 40,000 1770 175,000 

1730 55,000 1780 203,000 

1740 70,000 1790 237,635 

Up to the Revolutionary period there was an average 
increase of about 33 per cent in each succeeding decade. 
From 1770 to 1790 the increase per decade averaged only 
about 18 per cent. This increase, reports the Governor, 
"Under the Divine benediction we attribute to indus- 
trious, temperate life and early marriage." 

In 1713 two-thirds of the area of the State was settled, 
and by 1754 the whole State was occupied. 

The housing of the colonists became more substantial. 
Brick w^as more often used in building. As late as 1770 
brick was imported from England and Holland, perhaps 
as ballast. But most bricks in Colonial buildings were 


made at home. (As early as 1639 the Henry Whitfield 
house in Guilford was built of stone and is still standing.) 
The household in New England generally was a self- 
sustaining unit. 

There was little care for ornament or design. In the 
first half of the century, at least, the household furniture 
was likely to include shoemaker's tools, leather tanned in 
the neighborhood, surgeon's tools and apothecary's stuff, 
occasionally carpenter's and blacksmith's tools, and a 
cider press. A spinning wheel was almost always in 
the house and often a loom. The wood turner made 
plates, etc., from "dish timber," probably poplar or 
linden (10). 

At this time "through New England men, women and 
children wore homespun; linen shirts, tow cloth skirts 
and breeches and woolen socks. Buckskin and lambs skin 
breeches were common." Coats for heavy weather were 
made of deerskin. These statements represent conditions 
in the first half of the century among even well-to-do 
farmers throughout the Colony. There was, of course, a 
small fraction of the people, living near centers of inter- 
course and trade whose houses and dress were more 
elaborate and the dress of all classes gradually improved 
in material later in the century. 

Cereals and meats of all kinds were abuuvdant but there 
was no means of keeping either meat or vegetables in 
fresh condition. Many families lived through the winter 
on smoked, salted and pickled food. But milk, butter and 
cheese were available. Fruit, such as apples, could be kept 
well into winter. Housewives pickled Indian corn and 
other vegetables, nuts and oysters, they dried apples and 
made "apple butter." Beer, cider, brandy and rum were 
the ordinary beverages. 


Beer was brewed at home and spruce beer was used at 
sea against scurvy (4). 

From 1715 to 1750 a great change came over the 
Colonies. *'No war, no constant danger from the French 
or Indians, no menace to shipping on the seas." Hanover- 
ians came to the EngHsh throne and there followed what 
Burke called "a wise and salutary neglect." "The home 
government giving up the idea of rigidly carrying out 
the laws of navigation and trade, offered a generous 
nature to take her own way to perfection." 

Thus the colonists entered on an era of progress and 
consequent prosperity. 

The clearing of land, raising food, producing clothing, 
with the establishment of commerce, by which some 
necessities and comforts were provided which it was not 
possible to make at home, were practically the whole busi- 
ness of the inhabitants, until the final struggle for inde- 
pendence in 1776, when a seven years' war and six years 
or more of labor in organizing and establishing a civil 
government left little time or thought for improvement 
in the methods or tools of agriculture which marked the 
next century. 

The only plow in use, up to the nineteenth century was 
an unwieldy, heavy, wooden affair. The harrow was 
wooden, with wooden pegs (45). The farm tools were 
made locally; rakes, forks, axe helves, shovels with 
wrought iron edges, flails, baskets and yokes, cheese 
presses, bowls and paddles (53), 

The means of transportation were, of course, very 
limited. Carts with one or two horses were used on the 
farm, but oxen were preferred for the heavier work. 

Pleasure carriages were first seen in Middlesex County 
about 1750 (16), and in Litchfield in 1776 and there 


were few there until after the Revolutionary War. In 
1761 there were only four "chaises" in New Haven. 

New England soon became a network of roads and 
highways, with main routes connecting important towns, 
country roads and lanes, pent roads and private ways 
leading to outlying sections (4). 

Connecticut roads had a bad reputation. There were 
few bridges, troublesome ferries and much soft and 
rocky ground. They were referred to by travellers as 
"most miserable" and "most intolerable." 

These conditions were considerably improved in the 
latter part of the century and bridges over the larger 
rivers were more common. As roads are the subject of 
another paper in this volume no further notice of them is 
needed here. 

As to the principal crops raised in the eighteenth cen- 

Indian corn continued to be the chief staple crop both 
for family use and for stock feed. Eliot raised 60 to 70 
bushels to the acre and the following year 90 bushels. The 
Rev. Peters (52), says 40 to sixty bushels are raised on 
even land; 30 to 40 on hilly land, but this latter weighs 
13 pounds to the bushel more than that raised on river 
land. Dwight, writing in the early part of the nineteenth 
century, (24, Vol. I), says the average yield of corn is 
25 bushels but he has seen crops of 118 bushels. 

It was hoped to make the stalks available for the man- 
ufacture of molasses. Stiles notes (62), "This is done 
with only the Topping of the corn without damaging the 
Ear or Grain. In old York, 8 M. from Portsmo. are 
erected last week two Mills consisting of three plane 
Wooden Cylinders with the Improvement of Cogs atop. 
In these Mills they have already made considerable Mo- 


lasses from Corn Tops and some of the Molasses has been 
distilled into good Rum. It is said that the Produce is at 
the rate of two Bbls. Molasses to an acre of Corn." ''At 
Dr. Gales in Killingworth, As I had first tasted good Mo- 
lasses, 21st. Oct. at Greenfld made of Cornstalks, so here 
Dr. Gale first showed me Spirits made of the Juice which 
I tasted and also saw it sink Oyl." (62, Vol. II). And 
later on, "At Middletown ten thousand gallons of stalk 
juice were delivered in this fall to one distillery which 
distilled near a thousand gallons of good rum." 

The business began much earlier in the century. In 
1717 (75, Vol. II), the General Court granted the sole 
right to make molasses from Indian corn to Edward Hin- 
man of Stratford. It does not appear that this business 
ever became extensive. 

Wheat was considerably grown until the appearance of 
the Hessian fly when wheat growing was nearly aban- 
doned. There were few varieties grown of both summer 
and winter kinds. "But corn is very much the staple and 
a scarcity of it affects the country more than a failure of 

Dwight, (24, Vol. I), says that the Hessian fly first 
appeared in New England in 1787, entering Fairfield Co. 
and advancing about twenty miles a year. Peters says 
that wheat generally yields from 20 to 30 bushels per 
acre (52). Dwight puts the average production at 15 
bushels though he has known of 40 bushels per acre. 

Rye and barley were also grown. 

Regarding forage, Eliot, in 1749, (25, Vol. II), com- 
plains of the scarcity of hay and corn which is increasing. 
The stock of the country has outgrown the meadows so 
that the high price of hay limits the live stock. In a hard 
winter the scarcity of hay must be made up with corn 


and rather than lose cattle the farmers pinch their fami- 

He mentions only two grasses native to the country, 
Herd's grass or timothy and Foul Meadow grass, which 
he pronounces to be much the best of the two. The seed 
of these and of clover could be bought in market in 1765.. 
The lack of good meadow both for pasture and hay con- 
tinued till the beginning of the nineteenth century. 
"Agricola," writing to the Connecticut Courant, March 
3, 1784, says: ''The parching heats to which this country 
is exposed often occasions a want of summer pasture as 
well as winter fodder. It is therefore of the utmost mo- 
ment that the American cultivators should be informed 
that artificial meadows constitute one-half of the rural 
riches of Europe." He states that any farmers who wish 
to experiment in the matter may get the seed from Nor- 
mandy by applying to the French consul's office for which 
the only charges will be its purchase price in Normandy 
with land carriage from Caen to Port I'Orient. This is 
made possible by the generosity of His Most Christian 
Majesty, the King of France. He then discusses the 
merits of clover, sain foin, lucerne, (alfalfa), and Hy- 
vernage, a species of winter vetch. 

The time of the introduction of potatoes seems to be 
somewhat uncertain, probably between 1705 and 1750 
(10). Andrews states, (4), that they were not intro- 
duced until after the advent of the Scotch-Irish in 1720, 
and they did not for some time become a common vege- 

A few appear, probably as a curiosity, at a Harvard 
dinner in 1708 (75). Trumbull gives the date of their 
introduction into Connecticut as 1720 (70, Vol. I). They 
were first seen in Windsor' in 1760 (65). and were little 


used there till after the revolution; (53), but a corres- 
pondent in Saybrook writes to President Stiles in 1767, 
(61, p. 463), "We improve in potatoes in this colony ex- 
ceedingly. Many farmers raise 500 (bushels) per An. 
T don't think myself stored without 150 bushels per An. 
They make butter and beef and store excellently well." 

Wethersfield is the traditional home of the onion and 
there is record, (64), of their being an article of trade as 
early as 1710. Later large quantities were raised here and 
shipped to New York. 

In 1780 Wethersfield citizens protested against an act 
of the Committee of Public Safety which forbade ship- 
ment or sale of produce outside the State. Anticipating a 
great demand Wethersfield had raised more onions than 
ever and many more than the army and navy could use, 
and the excess they could neither sell nor barter for the 
selling to army and navy had to be done through an agent 
of the government who would take only a moderate share 
of the crop. The growers were therefore in great dis- 

A traveller notes in 1788 that "Wethersfield is remark- 
able for its vast fields uniformly covered with onions, of 
which great quantities are exported to the West Indies." 

The common garden vegetables and herbs as we have 
seen were usually raised in the preceding century. 

Maple sugar was made in Norfolk and Goshen and 
probably in many other parts of the Colony. In 1774 
16,000 pounds were produced in Norfolk and in 1784 a 
third more (62, Vol. III). 

As we have seen, fruit, particularly apples, were grown 
in considerable quantity early in the settlement and were 
used largely for making cider. The planting of orchards 


apparently increased with the increasing quiet and pros- 
perity and more attention was paid to the finer varieties. 

Dudley, states that in 1726 Pearmain, Kentish Pippin 
and Golden Russetin were esteemed apples in New Eng- 
land and Orange and Bergamont were cultivated pears. 
It is likely that at first many of the apple trees were seed- 
lings and their fruit was mainly ''cider apples" rather 
than good eating varieties. In a paper on the Pioneers of 
Pomology in New Haven, (44, Vol. I), the author says 
that Benjamin Douglass was the first propagator of fine 
fruit in New Haven known to him. In 1775 he planted 
64 cherry trees, all grafted. White and Black Ox Hearts, 
Honey Heart and May Duke. In 1780 or soon after 
grafts of Delancey pear and a large, sweet, red apple were 
distributed and the pear, called Jonah, was still alive in 

Nathan Beers, before 1779 grew Catharine, Jargonelle, 
Warden, St. Michael's Bergamont and many other pears. 
T. S. Gold of West Cornwall reports (21), that he has a 
Seeknofurther, grafted near the ground, the last survivor 
of an orchard which he believes was set out in 1760. 

Of other than food crops, the growing of flax, hemp, silk 
and broom corn was undertaken with more or less suc- 
cess. Broom corn was early cultivated in Wethersfield 
and in 1797 the first broom was made from this plant 
(64). It is matter of tradition that Benjamin Franklin 
introduced this plant in 1781 from seed which he saved 
from a whisk broom that came from the West Indies. 
Previously brooms were made from splints. 

Hemp was greatly needed for cordage for the vessels 
built on the coast and the Indian hemp was not satisfac- 
tory in quality or sufficient in supply. The growing of 
English hemp became necessary. In 1734, (15, Vol. VII), 


the Colony offered bounties for good, well-dressed, water- 
rotted hemp in lots of not less than 50 pounds, raised in 
the Colony and for "well wrought canvas or duck," In 
1740, (10), every family was ordered to get at least a 
spoonful of English hemp seed and "sow in some f rutfull 
soyle, at least a foote distant between every seed, and the 
same so planted, shall presarve and keepe in husbandl)' 
manner for supply of seed for another yeare." 

Later bounties were ofTered by the court for fine linen 
cloth woven in the Colony. In 1787 the State ordered that 
forty shillings per acre of land on which hemp was raised 
should be abated by the assessors on the tax of said land 
and after 1789 a duty was to be laid on imported hemp. 

More important to the families of Connecticut was 
flax. Cotton goods were very scarce. "Cotton wool" had 
long ago been imported from the West Indies in very 
moderate quantity but it was used not for making cotton 
fabrics but for the lining of vests to be worn as a protec- 
tion against the arrows of the Indians. In 1643 every 
family in New Haven plantation was required by law to 
have a coat of cotton wool well and substantially made, 
"so as it may be fit for service and custom" ; and probably 
the law required this until there was no longer danger of 
an Indian attack. 

Until the beginning of the nineteenth century the com- 
mon wearing apparel, at least outside the centers of popu- 
lation, as well as other household fabrics, were homespun 
and spun and woven by the family or the immediate 
neighborhood from home-grown wool and flax. In some 
places this home weaving continued well into the nine- 
teenth century but probably little flax was grown after 
1830. Apparently it was grown on a considerable scale 


for a time for its oil and the cake from the presses was 
used for feed as it is at the present time. 

The growing of mulberry trees and silk worms and the 
manufacture of sewing silk and silk fabrics was an indus- 
try which had its rise and considerable development in 
this century. Stiles states that the first silk worms raised 
in New England were grown by Rev. Dr. Wigglesworth 
of Harvard College about 1727. The industry began in 
Connecticut about 1732, (12), and was not abandoned 
till about 1840. 

In 1734, (15, Vol. VII), the production of silk was 
encouraged by bounties offered by the Colony for the 
production of sewing silk and silk fabrics from silk worms 
bred and nourished within the Colony. 

In 1747, Governor Law wore the first coat and stock- 
ings made of New England silk and in 1750 his daughter 
wore the first gown made of the same material. Governor 
Leete raised silk and wore a suit of it about 1783. 

President Stiles of Yale College took great interest in 
the project and probably did more than any one else to 
make possible a chance of success in the industry, by his 
careful studies in breeding and feeding the worms and in 
getting mulberry trees planted throughout the State, the 
foliage of which is the sole food of the worms. In the 
library of Yale University is a manuscript volume with 
the title, "Observations on the Silk Wormx and the Culture 
of Silk, A. D. 1763, Being the Journal of an Experiment 
in Newport, R. I., in the Summer of 1763 in Raising 
about 3,000 Silk Worms. By Ezra Stiles." He spared 
no manual labor, nor painstaking observation of his 
worms and kept a full record of his daily observations. 
These cannot be further noticed here, but it is pleasant 
to see that this eminent divine named the three worms 


which he had under very particular observation, for con- 
venience of reference, General Wolfe, Oliver Cromwell 
and Yeo. "General Wolfe and Oliver Cromwell, his com- 
panion, very sluggish, eat a little or rather nibble." "Yeo 
has not yet settled himself. Oliver in indolence below." 

. In 1788, 1789 and 1790 Stiles sent to each of eighty 
ministers in the State enough mulberry seed to grow 4,000 
trees, with the understanding that at the end of three 
years three-quarters of them shall belong to the planters 
and the others distributed by the minister gratis in his 
parish. In 1784 the State offered bounties for growing 
mulberry trees under suitable conditions. In 1789 a writer 
in the Connecticut Courant states that there were about 
12,000 mulberry trees in the State. Silk culture was begun 
in Mansfield and neighboring towns as early as 1760 and 
there it maintained its foothold until about 1840. 

The largest amount of reeled silk produced in any one 
year in Mansfield is stated to have been 7,000 pounds, 
but in general not above 3,000 pounds. The New London 
Gazette, of March 31, 1769, states that William Hanks 
of Mansfield is now "cultivating a large vineyard and last 
year raised silk sufficient to make three women's gowns." 
A very limited amount of silk was produced in many 
places through the State until about 1835 when a silk bub- 
ble business grew rapidly until about 1839 or 1840 when 
it burst and ended silk culture in this State. The Morus 
multicaulis is a mulberry growing more rapidly and hav- 
ing much larger leaves than the black or white mulberry 
which had been grown hitherto. Nurseries of the multi- 
caulis were established and the prices of trees rose from 
one and two dollars apiece to as much as $300 to $vSOO 
per hundred. In 1839 the nursery men suffered from the 


financial panic of 1837 and it appeared that the multi- 
caulis was not hardy enough for the northern states. 
Prices went to pieces and many nurseries were ruined. To 
close the whole story a fatal blight of the mulberry trees 
became common all over the country which resulted in 
the death of the worms and the practical abandonment 
of the business. But the failure of silk production was in- 
evitable even if there had been no panic and no multicaitlis. 
The feeding of silk worms can only be successfully car- 
ried on where hand labor is exceedingly cheap and abund- 
ant and the scale of living is very low. 

Tobacco had been grown in Connecticut in the preced- 
ing century for home consumption but in the eighteenth 
century it had become an article of export. In 1753 in- 
spectors were appointed to pack all tobacco which was 
offered for sale. Stiles states that tobacco was packed in 
hogsheads and shipped to the West Indies. It sold for 
five-pence the pound. The date is not clear but probably 
before 1768. 

The acts of Connecticut published in 1784 provide that 
"Whereas Tobacco is or may be a considerable Article of 
Exportation and ought to be under such Regulation as to 
prevent Fraud therein," each town was to elect two or 
more surveyors or packers of tobacco, ''who shall care- 
fully survey and search the Tobacco by them to be packed 
and shall cull out and separate all such Hands of Tobacco 
as are in Whole or in Part damnified in any way or by 
any means whatever : and shall pack or press no Tobacco 
but what is judged by him to be sound, well ripened, suffi- 
ciently cured and every way good and merchantable." The 
packer is required to brand each cask or container which 
he packs with the first two letters of his name and with 
the name of the town wherein he dwells. 


No one may pack his own tobacco or transport any 
unbranded tobacco. 

The object thus sought in 1784 is one of the aims of 
the Connecticut Valley Tobacco Improvem.ent Associa- 
tion very recently established in this State. 

Along with the more strictly agricultural business of 
the farmers of the Colony should be mentioned the tapping 
of pine trees and the making of tar, pitch and turpentine 
which, used to some extent at home, were articles of ex- 

From the earliest days sheep and hogs were commonly 
raised and their numbers increased easily and rapidly. 
Pork was sufficiently abundant to be exported. More 
sheep were raised in Connecticut, (in 1781), than in any 
two of the other colonies. "Their wool is better than in 
other colonies but not so fine or good as the English" 
(52). The wool used for clothing or bedding was spun 
and wove in the separate families. In 1774 the General 
Court notes that "It is practiced by some particular in- 
habitants to turn large flocks (of sheep) on the highways 
with a keeper and thereby eat up and destroy the herbage 
therein to the great detriment of the poor inhabitants of 
such towns," and orders that no one shall turn more than 
fifty on the highway without getting permission from the 
town (15, Vol. 14). 

The number of cows increased more slowly but butter 
and cheese were exported, at least in the latter part of the 

The town of Goshen early established a reputation and 
foreign trade in cheese which will be noticed later. 

Trouble from wolves continued through the eighteenth 
century, though their number was very materially reduced 
and at its close was probably so small as to make the 


damage done by them infrequent. Bounties were offered 
for their destruction partly by the Colony or State and 
partly by the town, as high as fifteen pounds, "old tenor," 
in 1750, three pounds in 1784, which represent the ex- 

When Goshen was settled about 1730, bears, raccoons, 
wolves and foxes were plenty and for a long time there- 
after. Beavers were also found. 

The wolves were especially troublesome and injurious. 

In 1784 four wolves appeared one Sunday in the vi- 
cinity of Norfolk and fearing for their stock an alarm was 
given to the congregation in church. About eighty men 
turned out and after a chase got all the marauders. The 
church service was over, for them, and "the whole party 
then retired to an Inn and spent the day in joy and fes- 
tivity" (5). 

Bears were taken in Litchfield County between 1760 
and 1770, (16) and wild cats occasionally destroyed sheep 
and lambs. About the same time (5), a bear was killed 
in Bethany which had destroyed calves and bee hives and 
even had the effrontery to enter a house and lap up the 
milk and cream. A panther, (5), in 1767, which had 
killed nine sheep in a yard at Windsor, was tracked and 

Dogs, first cousins to the wolves, had become common 
and developed that fondness for mutton which their age 
cannot wither nor custom stale. 

In 1738 a law provided that if a selectman declared that 
evidence of harm to sheep or cattle was, in his opinion, 
satisfactory, the dog concerned might be killed and the 
owner be liable for damages. Any dog found at large in 
fields or woods without a master might be lawfully killed. 


Various other laws regarding damage by dogs were 
passed from 1716 to 1786. 

A minor pest, then as now, was mice which occasionally 
girdled orchard trees (25, Vol. II). 

Blackbirds were enough of a plague in 1711 to cause 
the Hartford authorities, (14, Vol. VI), to require every 
rateable person to kill one dozen blackbirds in the four 
months beginning with March or else to pay a fine of 
one shilling. Those who kill more than a dozen may re- 
ceive a penny apiece. 

Wheat had been seriously affected by "blast" which 
came to be rightly attributed to the presence of barberry 
bushes. In the Colonial Records for 1726, page 10, it is 
recorded "Whereas the abounding of barberry bushes is 
thought to be very hurtful, it being by plentyful experi- 
ence found that where they are in large quantities they 
do occasion or at least increase, the blast on all sorts of 
English grain," the inhabitants of each town are em- 
powered to agree on the utter destruction of such bushes 
within the town and the time and manner of their de- 

A fine of ten shillings is imposed on any one who op- 
poses the destruction, to be paid for every month he op- 
poses until he gives free consent. Provided that if the 
bushes are depended on for a fence, the town shall make 
just satisfaction. 

In 1784 the Laws of the State of Connecticut provide 
that any one, with the advice and consent of the civil 
authorities and selectmen of the town may, during March, 
April, October and November, enter any lands where bar- 
berry bushes are growing and dig up and destroy them 
without being liable to any action, suit or damage. In 
1796 the town of New Haven. ( 16) , granted $200 for the 


purpose of destroying the barberry bushes within its lim- 
its and they were "principally destroyed." "The method 
adopted to destroy them was to eradicate them." 

This was nearly one hundred and fifty years before 
botanical studies proved a direct connection between the 
blast of wheat and barberry bushes. The farmer knew 
nothing of Puccinia graminis and "heteroecious rusts" 
which must spend a part of their life cycle on one plant 
and a part on a different one. But they adopted a plan 
which was effective and which the farmers of the middle 
west are now carrying out at a very considerable expense. 

No extended discussion of economic history is here in 
place, but because farm produce had largely to serve the 
purpose of money in the exchange of service, a brief 
notice of financial conditions is proper. 

The amount of money in the Colony had been relatively 
very small ever since its settlement. The need for it had 
also been quite limited. 

As we have seen the dwellers in Connecticut for a cen- 
tury and a half had been engaged in settling and subduing 
a wilderness, producing food and clothing for their own 
families and having very limited intercourse or trade with 
the world outside." Barter took the place of a common 
medium of exchange. But this scarcity of money became 
an acute embarrassment when intercourse between com- 
munities and foreign trade developed. The close of the 
war of independence (72), found finances in almost hope- 
less confusion and there was little improvement before 
the end of the century. All coins, excepting coppers, were 
foreign, many badly worn or mutilated. The Spanish 

ISA farmer writes (19, Aug, 18, 1788), "At this time my farm gave me 
and my whole family a good living on the produce of it and left me, one 
year with another one hundred and fifty silver dollars ; for I never spent 
more than ten dollars a year, which was for salt, nails and the like. Nothing 
to wear, eat or drink was purchased, as my farm provided all." 


"milled dollar" or "piece of eight" was most common, ob- 
tained in the West India trade and after the war this and 
its subdivisions were the recognized unit of account, equiv- 
alent to the dollar. The other most common coins were the 
French guineas and pistoles, Portuguese moidores and 
"Johannes or "Joes" ^* and Spanish doubloons and pistoles. 

The supply of fractional currency was inadequate and 
silver pieces were often cut in halves or quarters. The 
coins of Great Britain were in very limited circulation. 
In 1785 Congress made the silver dollar the currency 
basis of a decimal system. The equivalent of the dollar 
in New England was six shillings but was different 
in different states. Large amounts of paper, "Continen- 
tal" money entered circulation during the war and suc- 
ceeding years, the value of which went from bad to worse. 

In 1780 one dollar in silver was the equivalent of 65 
dollars in paper money which became "not worth a conti- 
nental" when Congress refused to accept its own paper 
money in payment of postage. 

In November 1777, (15), Congress recommended that 
commissioners be appointed in the several states, New 
Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, New York, 
New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware to meet in New 
Haven, to ascertain and regulate the price of labor, manu- 
factures, internal produce and commodities, imported and 
to recommend legislatures to enact suitable laws in ac- 
cordance with their recommendations. There is a con- 
siderable list of these recommended prices in lawful 
money, six shillings to the dollar. (The "dollar" was the 
equivalent of a "piece of eight" ).'^^ Among them are: 

1* A gold coin, worth about nine dollars coined by John (Johannes) a 

king of Portugal. 

15 A suggested explanation of the dollar sign, $, is the use of the numeral 
8 with two vertical lines to give it a monetary significance. 


Wheat, peas, beans, per bushel $ 1.61 

Rye or rye meal 1.08 

Indian corn or meal 75 

Oats 50 

Butter, (firkin or cask) per pound 20.7 — .22 

Neat leather shoes 1.99 

Best American steel, per ton 66.40 

All through the history of the Colony^® and especially 
towards the latter part of the eighteenth century we find 
efforts made to regulate the price both of labor and com- 
modities and to fix the price at which commodities could 
be used for the payment of a part of the state or town 
taxes. Sheldon cites, (57), "colony pay" at which grain 
and other articles would be received for colony taxes, 
"town prices" at which the same things would be received 
for town taxes or for exchanges, "provision pay" was 
grain or other food. 

Thus, for paying town debts the value of wheat was 
fixed at 6 shillings the bushel in 1722, 12 shillings in 1740, 
16 shillings in 1742, and 17 in 1746, "old tenor." Values 
for other cereals are also given. 

The wages of laborers in Goshen (29), were fixed at 
town meeting at 5 shillings a day, from Oct. 1 to the last 
day of February and at 6 shillings a day for the rest of the 
year. How this regulation was received, whether it met 
with objection or was disregarded does not appear. The 
mention of penalties is not prominent and one imagines 
that the law was a convenience to facilitate barter rather 
than a stern restriction to prevent profiteering. But in a 
friendly neighborhood where the struggle for wealth was 

The shilling would then be 12^ cents, one-eighth of the dollar or the 
piece of eight. 

18 As early as 1641 (65), the General Court regulated by statue the scale 
of prices for different kinds ol labor, hours of day labor, etc. 


not pressing, because hardly obtainable, some standard 
for exchanging provisions which did not involve money 
must have been a great convenience. 

If we agree to call a bushel of wheat this year $1.61 
and of corn 80 cents, we manage to get one or the other 
without dispute, though the dollar itself is far from us." 
The Mexican, whose offer to lend his mule to a stranger 
was thankfully accepted, replied "Oh, sir, I have no mule 
but I beg you to receive the compliment." In like manner 
the farmer might say to his shoemaker, 'T have no dollar 
to pay for your work but I beg you to accept a bushel 
and a peck of corn with my compliments." 

The general progress of agriculture and its condition 
at various times in this country may be indicated by the 
following extracts from the reports made by the Colonial 
government to the English Committee on Trade and 
Foreign Plantations. These, or most of them are found 
in manuscript copies of Foreign Correspondence with the 
British Government 1668-1748, in State Library, pgs, 
126, 145, 149, 165. 

"The number of our inhabitants is about 4,000. (!) A 
little pitch and turpentine and tar are sent to Great Bri- 
tain. Trade is principally with Boston and the West In- 
dies,^^ consisting in what is chiefly produced by tillage of 
the land. Most people weave their cloth in their own 
families. Horses and lumber are sent to the West Indies 
in exchange for sugar, salt, molasses and rum." 

"Coarse cloths and coarse linens are made amongst us 
of our own wool and flax without which our people must 

17 A shoemaker's ledger from 1770 to 1784 (34), shows that he was paid, 
for making shoes, in walnuts, butter, sugar, salt, milk, wheat, rye, wool, 
meats, cider and rum. 

18 At this time only 42 vessels were owned in the colony with a tonnage 
of 1,225, a very small gain over the year 1680. 


go naked or ragged ye greater part of the time. We tan 
our own leather and make most of our own shoes." 

In 1708, "The trade of this Colony is principally what 
is produced by their tillage of the land. The manufac- 
turers in this Colony are but few. There is but one clothier 
in the Colony so that our people are necessitated to weave 
the cloth that they can make in their own families with- 
out any thing more than fulling of it, (for the most 
part), after it comes out of the loom. All we make is not 
enough to serve the occasions of the poorer sort." 

In 1728, 'The trade of the Colony is but small. Horses 
and lumber are exported from home to the West Indies 
for which we ... in exchange sugar, salt, mo- 
lasses and rum. What provisions we can spare and 
some small yearly ... of tar and turpentine are 
sent to Boston and New York and Rhode Island for 
which we . . . European goods." 

The last report to the Committee, made just before the. 
Revolution, (Appendix to Public Records, 1772 to 1775) 
names the same agricultural products as were common 
about a hundred years before, with the addition of flax. 
The staple commodities were pork, beef, pot and pearl 

The principal trade was with the West Indies with an 
occasional cargo of flax seed to Ireland, to England with 
lumber and potashes and a few to Gibralter and Barbary 
with flour, lumber and New England rum. 

The value of the exported produce and commodities 
may be 200,000 pounds. Manufacture of linens and 
woolens was done in the family, for the use of the poorer 
.sort, laborers and servants. Iron, mostly bog iron, was 
rmanufactured to some extent "but hitherto not a supply 
ior our inhabitants." 


In the eighteenth century three Connecticut men ap- 
pear prominent for service in promoting and improving 
agriculture. There were no doubt others who were also 
leaders, but these three have left permanent records of 
their services. Rev. Ezra Stiles, D. D., LL. D., was the 
President of Yale College, from 1777 to 1795. He has 
left a record of his studies in the growing of silk worms, 
diligently carried for two years or more. He was the 
chief agent in planting mulberry trees throughout the 
State, which provides food for the silk worms, and he 
showed great interest and helpfulness in all agricultural 

Rev. Jared Eliot of Killingworth, a grandson of John 
Eliot, the apostle to the Indians, a graduate of Yale, was 
a clergyman of Killingworth, most acceptable in this 
calling and it is recorded, (16), that for more than forty 
years he never failed of preaching at home or abroad a 
part of every Sabbath. He was also a physician, very ex- 
tensively employed in the neighboring places "and such 
was his reputation that he was sometimes called out of 
the Colony." "Much of his practice was performed gratu- 
itously and in charities he abounded." Connected with 
his knowledge of medicine was his acquaintance with the 
botany of the region. He was withal a successful farmer 
and "acquired a large landed estate which laid the founda- 
tion for the wealth of a numerous family." But aside 
from his example as a progressive and successful farmer, 
his chief service was in his writings, the most interesting 
of which is a series of Essays upon Field Husbandry 
in New England as it is or may be Ordered. This, it 
is believed, was the first practical agricultural treatise 
written in this country. 

The first of these essays appeared in 1748 and in sub- 


sequent years five others, with an index concluding the 
series in 1761. 

He discusses the handling of tilled land, drainage, the 
grasses which he finds most useful, the production of 
silk, the use of creek mud as a fertilizer, etc. He intro- 
duced and urged the growing of clover which made its 
way into general farming very slowly (25, Vol. II). He 
was an experimenter and reported the results of his 
work for the benefit of the public. Prof. Eli Ives, in an 
address before the New Haven Horticultural Society in 
1837 states that Jared Eliot introduced chicory into this 
State and that he was the first native citizen of this coun- 
try to be elected a member of the Royal Society of Lon- 
don. He also appears to have been the first to introduce 
an agricultural machine, a seed and fertilizer drill. Start- 
ing with Jethro Tull's wheat drill which he found very 
intricate and expensive, "But knew not how to mend it, 
therefore applied myself to the Reverend Mr. Clapp, 
President of Yale College and desired him for the regard 
which he had to the public and to me, that he would apply 
his mathematical learning and mechanical genius, in that 
affair, which he did to such good purpose that this new 
modelled drill can be made with a fourth part of what 
Mr. Tull's will cost." 

Next Eliot wanted a dung drill for which there was 
no model or precedent available. But Benonai Hylliard 
of Killingworth, a wheelwright, devised one which was 
combined with the seed drill so that they became one tool 
and could distribute 80 bushels of dung per acre, along 
with the seed. Eliot adds that Tull writes, "Two shil- 
lings in horse plowing would do more than forty shillings 
in dung." 


To this Eliot remarks, 'T should be glad, if in our 
climate one-half of this would prove true." 

The perfected drill received an award of fifty pounds 
offered by the New London Society for the Encourage- 
ment of Arts, and there was dispute between the estate 
of Jared Eliot and Hylliard as to the possession of this 

Agriculture in the Nineteenth Century 

The agriculture of the seventeenth century had been a 
struggle of each family to produce for itself by its own 
labor, food, clothing and shelter and to defend itself 
against the attacks of Indians and the ravages of wild 
beasts which together threatened the destruction of the 
settlements. It was truly a struggle for existence. 

Agriculture in the eighteenth century had been less 
menaced in these ways but was interrupted by the war 
with the mother country, by emigration to western lands 
and by the political agitation incident to the establishment 
of a federal union. These were matters of great concern 
to men who had fled from what they considered political 
and religious injustice, matters not to be left to the tender 
mercies of a politician class but to be anxiously and often 
acrimoniously discussed in their town meetings as well 
as in the state legislative assembly by men who thought 
more about the future of the State than of improvements 
in agriculture. 

In general each family formed a closed circle, contain- 
ing within itself both producers and consumers in about 
equal proportion. 

"The close of the Revolution found the State greatly 
impoverished. The demands made on the State for pro- 
visions for the army," says Gov. Trumbull," were "vastlv 


beyond her just proportion. Payment in depreciated cur- 
rency involved financial loss and discontent. Connecti- 
cut also bore the expense of defending her own coasts, 
an expense which the federal government refused to as- 
sume" (34). 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century nine-tenths 
of the inhabitants got most of their living from the farm.^® 
Even those who had other business or profession, arti- 
zans, lawyers, physicians and clergymen, all had farming 
land and supported themselves partly from its produce. 

This is illustrated by a statement that the doctors in 
Canterbury practiced medicine "when they had nothing 
more important to do," and the inventory of a physician 
in that region, besides his stock of drugs, included a pair 
of oxen, thirteen cows, thirty-five head of young cattle 
and sheep, swine, hay, farming tools, etc. It was usual 
to set aside a tract of land for the support of the minister 
and he also was often dependent, in part, for support, on 
his own work in farming. 

It was only a very inconsiderable portion of the popu- 
lation which did not clothe and feed itself, mostly by its 
own labor and on its own land. The sum total of manu- 
factures was not large and manufacturing, particularly 
of clothing and other textiles, was chiefly done, not in 
factories but in families and was, up to this time, largely 
for home or community consumption. 

The methods of agriculture made no marked improve- 
ment in these two centuries. Bidwell, (8), says "The 
ignorance and the conservatism of farmers were to some 
extent hindrances to agricultural progress, cheap land on 

19 In 1810 about one-tenth of the population lived in towns of between 
five and six thousand, one-quarter in towns of between three and five 
thousand dwellers (average thirty-seven hundred), and about two-thirds in 
still smaller communities. 


the frontier discouraged cultivation at home; but these 
circumstances do not, either alone or in combination, fur- 
nish a sufficient explanation of the state of the industry 
which prevailed. 

'Tn the background lay a condition of much more sig- 
nificance because of its determining force upon all the 
others. I refer to the lack of a market for agricultural 
products." The author asserts that with a suitable mar- 
ket, neither ignorance of methods, nor cheap land inviting 
extensive rather than intensive farming would have stood 
in the way of agricultural progress. But with little or 
no chance to sell a surplus of corn, butter, cheese, etc., 
of what use was it for the inland farmers to raise such a 
surplus ? It was time and labor wasted. 

Agriculture was waiting for an increase of non-pro- 
ducing population, and facilities for foreign trade which 
were to come with improved means of transportation 
and the growth of manufactures and of shipping. 

The condition of agriculture at the beginning of this 
century is set forth by Purcell as follows (54) : ''Ameri- 
can agriculture at the beginning of the nineteenth century 
was inferior to that of England" (24, Vol. I) . "The small 
free holder with fifty to one hundred and fift}' acres 
could not afford to be progressive. Content with a 
tolerable crop which covered local demand, he was con- 
tented to scratch the top of an exha^usted soil with an an- 
tiquated plow, sow home grown seed on unharrowed 
fields and await the harvest. Indian corn, the staple crop, 
was cultivated as the aborigines had taught the first 
settlers, fertilized by white fish or sea weed." 

''Small apple orchards furnished cider apples for cider 
brandy," but not exclusively for brandy making. Cider 
itself was a common, not to say an almost universal drink 


in families and some good eating apples were also grown. 
The housewife also made store of dried apples and apple 
butter for winter use. In the aggregate, ''the production 
of butter and cheese was large." "Sheep were of a mongrel 
type producing little wool." "Oxen were used for heavy 
work on the farm and horses chiefly for driving." "Swine 
alone were considered up to the standard by foreign ob- 
servers." "The fodder for livestock was insufficient; the 
lack of nourishment coupled with imperfect shelter and 
inattention to the principles of selection in breeding, had 
caused a general degeneration in practically all kinds of 
domestic animals." ^° 

"In general the system of agriculture was not only ex- 
tensive but even in many respects predatory : the farmers 
had little stimulus to get anything beyond a living." "The 
call for food supply in commercial towns can scarcely be 
said to have had any influence on the prosperity of the 
(farming) population or on farming methods in the 
inland region." Trade and barter were generally prac- 
ticed in the inland towns, to provide certain luxuries and 
comforts which the farm could not supply, such as coffee, 
tea, sugar and — let it be whispered — rum. As to the 
markets for produce outside the State, there was a limited 
trade with the City of New York, then of 100,000 in- 
habitants, the southern states and the West Indies, 
chiefly from the river and shore towns of Connecticut. 
In the New York market there was competition with the 
Dutch settlers on Long Island and the nearby New Jersey 
and New York farmers. New Haven also shipped in the 
coasting trade cheese, pork and hams, butter, lard and 
cereals (8), the only vegetables being small amounts of 

20 The situation is admirably set forth in detail in P. W. Bidwell's Rural 
Economy in New England at the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century. (8) 


beans and potatoes, most being transhipped to the West 
Indies. Other towns shared in this coastwise trade. The 
Connecticut River and Long Island Sound furnished the 
only convenient channels for moving the produce of Con 
necticut to market. But these means for carrying and 
trading in the products of the farm were entirely inade- 
quate to serve the inland towns. 

The public roads and highways were in wretched con- 
dition, being generally in charge of incompetent mana- 
gers and inefficient workmen who were either impressed 
by the town or were "working out" their road tax. Co- 
operation between towns and counties in laying out and 
building highways was not always easy. In short, there 
was neither adequate means of transporting farm prod- 
uce from the inland producers to consumers, nor any 
great demand for them. Connecticut had been, essentially 
on a circular one track business. It might have suited a 
literalist who could quote from the Scripture, "Having 
therefore food and raiment let us be therewith content." 

It may not be amiss to mention two traits which have 
been commonly ascribed to the Connecticut Yankee and 
which were developed in these many years of struggle 
with adverse conditions. The first is a close and some- parsimonious economy. Of this Horace Bushnell 
wrote, "It was also a great point in this homespun mode 
of life, that it imparted what many speak of only v/ith 
contempt, a closely girded habit of economy. 

Harnessed all together in the producing process, young 
and old, male and female, from the boy that rode the 
plow horse to the grandmother knitting under her spec- 
tacles, they had no conception of squandering lightly what 
they had all been at work, thread by thread, and grain 
by grain to produce" (8). But along with this there was 


also of necessity developed a spirit of comradeship and 
an exercise of mutual helpfulness in all times of need; 
for they were "members one of another." 

Other traits ascribed to the Yankee were ingenuity and 
resourcefulness. In an unsettled country, without di- 
vision of labor, with almost no factories, the farmer had 
to be his own mechanic, machinist and architect. 

Inventiveness, which was at first a necessity in making 
tools and appliances for his own house and farm, fostered 
by the native mental alertment of the settler and the facili- 
ties for general education, instantly applied itself to in- 
vention and manufacturing as a separate business when 
the political troubles of the early nineteenth century 
stopped trade with the factories of the old world. 

But here began a new agriculture. 

In a century where the growth of knowledge of the 
laws of nature and the art of bringing the work of the 
world into co-operation with them, had been greater than 
in all the world's previous history, it was inevitable that 
agriculture, the basic industry of our people, should have 
made rapid advances in methods ; in supplementing hand 
labor by machinery, reducing the man power required on 
the farm, facilitating transportation and trade, improv- 
ing the quality of live stock and the types of cultivated 
plants and restoring the fertility of soils, temporarily ex- 
hausted by the rude agriculture of the previous centuries. 

The course of Connecticut farming in this century may 
be roughly divided into four periods. First, the period 
of self sufficient economy, at its highest point of develop- 
ment in the early years of the century. Second, the period 
of transition to commercial agriculture — agriculture as 
a business — due to the development of manufacturing 


and foreign trade which involved a large non-farming 

This lasted till near the middle of the century. Third, 
the period in which Connecticut agriculture was greatly 
depressed by western and later by southern competition. 
Fourth, the period of abandonment of the less productive 
lands and the unprofitable crops and more intensive pro- 
duction of the very perishable farm products, fruit, vege- 
tables, milk, etc., for consumption in adjacent cities. 

Each of these periods has forced important changes in 
the kind of farm products raised, a resulting loss of in- 
vested capital and in some cases the abandonment of 
farms and the desolation of rural communities. 

These changes also wrought a diversification of farm- 
ing, caused by differences of soil and climate, (there is 
enough difference in the length of the growing season 
between the northern and southern counties to affect 
the yield of certain crops), opportunities of foreign trade, 
etc. Thus at nearly the same time, horse and mule breed- 
ing for the West India trade, was a paying business in 
the eastern part of the State, in the northwest cheese 
making was popular and profitable, while in New Haven 
and specially in Fairfield Counties more flax and flax 
seed were grown than in the whole of New England be- 

The history of Connecticut agriculture in this century 
is the history, not of the development of a single great 
business like cattle or wheat growing, but of raising vari- 
ous kinds of farm products, beef, dairying, special crops, 
like flax, tobacco, onions, etc., at times promoted, at other 
times depressed by wars, financial crises and the develop- 
ment of competition with other places, largely caused by 


the growth of transportation facilities and cheap western 

In the eighteenth century, as we have noticed, trade 
had begun, chiefly with the West Indies, but early in the 
nineteenth century trade and commerce greatly expanded. 
The north Atlantic states were the food states. The de- 
mand for provisions, fresh, salted, pickled or dried, be- 
sides livestock and naval stores, was great and trade with 
the warring countries of Europe, as well as with the West 
Indies was very profitable — and at times very risky. The 
United States was the only constantly neutral country 
with food to sell and ships to carry it and agriculture, 
shipbuilding and trade greatly prospered for a time. 
But from about 1807 to 1916 embargos, spoliations, non- 
intercourse acts and war with Great Britain and all the 
measures of other countries to impede our manufactures 
and commerce, depressed farming in one direction and 
caused a marvellous expansion of manufacturing. Some 
capital had already been collected by commerce and an 
intelligent and energetic labor force immediately pushed 
the business of manufacture when European suppHes 
were cut off and increased the demand for domestic 
goods which grew in volume and lessened the number of 
food producers. 

But it did not for some time greatly concentrate popu- 
lation in manufacturing centers. In 1840 this State had 
a population of 310,015. About one-sixth of them were 
engaged in manufacture (not including farm produce, 
butter and cheese, cutting lumber, etc.) 

Boots and shoes were extensively made, but no shoe 
factories are listed. The work was let out to be done in 
families. There are 2,166 "factories" listed, but their 
•size is shown by the fact that the average number of 


hands in each of the 284 textile mills was thirty. Eighty- 
seven different manufactures are listed and every town 
had a considerable number. With all these factories only 
29;000 tons of coal were used, small water powers, wood 
and perhaps charcoal furnished the rest of the needed 
power. It is obvious that many of the "manufacturers" 
were also farmers to the extent of growing more or less 
of their own food (66). 

The factory system of England became established in 
America in the second quarter of the nineteenth century 
and the development of manufactures on a very large 
scale has been since 1880 (9). 

While the total population of the State was 2.2 times as 
large in 1920 as in 1880, the population of eight of our 
manufacturing towns was about 3.3 as large as it was 
forty years ago and includes a little over half of the pop- 
ulation of the State. In 1880 it included about one-third. 

The agencies which helped to make the art of agricul- 
ture more intelligent and productive by bringing to its aid 
the results of farm experience here and elsewhere were 
the following: 

Farmers Organizations. Agricultural Societies. 
These gatherings drew their members from the isolation 
of their farm life, secured social intercourse, the exchange 
of ideas and experience, instruction from agricultural 
^^aders and by frequent shows and fairs promoted a 
healthy emulation in crop and livestock production. 

The agricultural societies were not meant to be just 
clubs for the exchange of facts and personal farm experi- 
ence, but included men of all professions who were to re- 
ceive, adopt and spread the knowledge of the farming 
progress of all countries. This they did in the earlier 


years of the century, but later their chief activity was in 
providing annual fairs or agricultural shows. 

A "Society for Promoting Agriculture in the State of 
Connecticut" was formed by persons from several towns, 
at Wallingford, Aug. 12th. 1794 and a constitution was 
adopted Nov, 11th, 1794. Its members were invited to 
make experiments in the various departments of agri- 
culture and the constitution of the Society contemplated 
the free communication of that information. Many ex- 
periments were made by the members themselves and 
their observation was extended to the improvements of 
their neighbors; the queries v/hich were framed by the 
Society were distributed to stimulate a spirit of investi- 
gation and the report of useful facts to the Society, that 
they might be preserved for general use. Both oral and 
written communications to the Society were encouraged 
and the former committed to writing. 

"This Society shall reject all doubtful or suspicious 
facts in communications made to the Society." The 
queries issued by the Society cover the whole range of 
farm practice. 

In its Transactions, published in New Haven, in 1802, 
a considerable number of experiments are recorded, 
chiefly with fertilizers and amendments and each article 
is signed by the contributor. This Society was probably 
the fifth of its kind to be organized in the United States. 

Regarding it Prof. Brewer states that it met at various 
places in New Haven County, but its influence extended 
over other parts of the State. A new constitution was 
adopted in 1803. A library was started in 1807. There 
^- seems to be some confusion regarding the name of the 
^ vSociety. In 1709 in the call for meetings it is named 
"The Agricultural Society of the State of Connecticut." 


From 1803 to 1818 it was called "The Society for Pro- 
moting Agriculture in the State of Connecticut." But 
when the Society applied for incorporation the General 
Assembly was unwilling to grant this name, but granted 
the name of "The Agricultural Society of New Haven." 

At first many papers were read on agricultural topics 
at its meetings which were quite regularly held and in 
1813 it was "Resolved that a discourse be delivered be- 
fore the Society at New Haven on the day following the 
public Commencement of Yale College, at 11 A. M. an- 

In 1819 apparently it began holding an agricultural 
and manufacturing show in the county. In 1820 the presi- 
dent of Yale College and the clergy of the county are 
made honorary members of the Society. 

A circular issued in 1840 speaks of a "revival" of the 
Society and there are no records of meetings between 
1822 and 1840. In 1841 the Transactions of this Society 
and of the New Haven Horticultural Society were 
printed in a pamphlet of 84 pages. The annual fairs were 
revived and held for a time in the town which raised the 
most money for the expenses of the fair. Thus in Water- 
bury, in 1847, there were exhibited 1,300 head of horned 
cattle of which 300 came from Watertown, and about 
10,000 people attended the fair. In 1848 it was voted to 
ask the General Assembly for an appropriation for a pro- 
fessorship of agriculture in Yale College and Prof. J. P. 
Norton was asked to deliver a lecture on agriculture be- 
fore the Society during the next session of the Legislature 
and that members of both houses be requested to attend. 

The manuscript records of the Society end in 1860. 

The Hartford Agricultural Society was founded and 
incorporated in 1817, suspended in 1831, revived in 1840, 


and in that year published a pamphlet of its Proceedings. 
It held fairs from 1854 to 1857 and perhaps later. The 
Horticultural Society of New Haven, organized in 1830, 
incorporated in 1833, was intended to take the place of 
the Agricultural Society of Connecticut, then moribund, 
but later invigorated. The Society published reports in 
pamphlet form with premium lists and occasional papers. 
The Society still exists. Other agricultural societies were 
established as follows: Litchfield County, about 1839; 
Windham, Fairfield and Middlesex Counties in 1840. The 
latter led a precarious life until 1851 when it became more 
prosperous. Its reports were published in the Middle- 
town papers. The Tolland County Society was established 
in 1853 and the New London Society in 1854. The Green- 
wood Agricultural Society was founded in the northern 
part of Litchfield County, in 1844. In the same year 
the Pomological Society of New Haven was established. 
The Hartford Horticultural Society was organized in 
1849. For a time it held weekly exhibits of fruits, 
flowers and vegetables, from June to October. 

But by the middle of the century most of these so- 
cieties became dead and alive affairs, affected with sleep- 
ing sickness (18), only waking at times to make an ex- 
hibition, which was a kind of farm outing, reviving again 
with some vigor, under the management of some ex- 
ceptionally efficient officer, then dozing again, or splitting 
up into smaller local groups. 

But in 1852 H. A. Dyer prepared a bill which was 
passed, incorporating The State Agricultural Society and 
wrote its constitution which was adopted in June of that 
year. The first annual meeting was held on Jan. 11th, 
1854. The aim of the Society is thus explained: "The 
Society seeks to disseminate a knowledge of agricultural 


science among farmers by encouraging the institution of 
clubs in the several towns where the experience of prac- 
tical men may be gathered and the theories of scientific 
men discussed and subjected to experiment by members. 

The Society also recommends the use of elementary 
science books in common schools, the preparation of 
teachers in normal schools for instruction in these studies 
and gathering the products of agriculture in this State 
and bringing men together to enjoy an annual harvest 
festival." There appears to have been a federation of 
county agricultural societies, each of which chose a dele- 
gate to sit as a member of the executive committee. The 
first fair was held in New Haven in 1854 at which pre- 
miums of $3,500 were offered. Subsequent fairs of this 
Society were held annually in New Haven and Hartford 
and one at least in Bridgeport. 

From 1854 till 1S59 this Society printed a report of 
its Transactions. It is said that these publications con- 
tinued till 1867, but I have not been able to find them. 
Besides some reports of the proceedings and fairs of the 
other agricultural societies, they contain notable papers 
on various agricultural subjects. For example, in 1855 
Prof. John A. Porter offers a plan for an agricultural 
school. In 1856 is a paper by T. S. Gold, The Natural 
Flora of a District Indicates its Natural Capacity. The 
first of Prof. S. W. Johnson's reports on Commercial 
Fertilizers was published in the Transactions of 1856, 
followed by further reports in the two following years. 
In the report of 1858 he published an Essay on Peat, 
Muck and Commercial Fertilizers which was the basis 
of his book on Peat and its Uses, long the standard au- 
thority on that subject. In 1856 there is an interesting 
paper by H. A. Dyer on Tobacco. 


Probably one result of the discussions of these agri- 
cultural societies was the testing of various old world 
crops and plants; lucerne, vetches, spelt, rape, poppies, 
madder, woad, etc., most of which were soon found to 
be of little or no value in this State. Alfalfa and rape 
still have consideration and occasional patches of alfalfa 
still found in headlands and fence corners, are rehcs of 
tests made long ago. 

Incidentally should be mentioned the small local 
"Farmers Clubs" which were most numerous in the last 
quarter of the century and were to the neighborhood 
what the Agricultural Society was to the county. 

The first Farmers Club of which record is found was 
organized in Middletown about 1842. It was to hold six 
meetings between October and May. "No question is to 
be discussed but such as shall immediately relate to agri- 

Many of these agricultural societies still exist, but the 
sole purpose of most of them is to hold an agricultural 
fair each year, offering premiums which are paid in part 
by a state appropriation. 

(At this writing, 1924, thirty-nine fairs have assigned 
dates for the present year.) The State Agricultural So- 
ciety is still in existence and holds an annual show, but 
it has greater influence in popularizing horse racing and 
the attractions of a midway than in promoting agricul- 
ture. Yet in the Fifties this society was very active and 
became the forerunner of the State Board of Agriculture 
which was for a long time the single rallying point of 

The Board of Agriculture. This Board was in- 
corporated by the General Assembly at the May session 


of 1866. It was made up of the Governor, one person 
appointed from each County by the agricuhural societies 
which received an annual bounty from the State and four 
appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate. 
The Board met and organized on August 1st, 1866. The 
Governor was elected president, E. H. Hyde, vice-presi- 
dent and T. S. Gold, secretary. The Board was to in- 
vestigate such subjects as it thought proper relating to 
improvements in agriculture and horticulture, to investi- 
:gate and regulate returns of Agricultural Societies and 
make report on them and to inquire into the wants and 
methods of practical husbandry, encouraging the estab- 
lishment of farmers clubs, agricultural libraries and 
reading rooms, and to disseminate useful informa- 
tion in agriculture, by means of lectures and otherwise. 
The first of its public meetings was held Jan. 8, 9, and 10, 
1867, in New Haven. 

The Board of Agriculture proved to be the organiza- 
tion which was most needed and most effective in pro- 
tQoting all agricultural interests. 

Its annual meetings brought together all the leading 
experts in agricultural science, the leaders in agricultural 
practice within the State and large numbers of interested 
farmers. The latest work of experimenters, the wisest 
experience of practical farmers, discussion, and oppor- 
tunity for questioning by anyone in the audience — all 
these things gave tremendous interest and importance to 
the meetings and particular value to the reports of them. 

The meetings of this Board were also the birthplace 
of legislation in the interest of agriculture and of agri- 
cultural institutions like the Connecticut Agricultural 
Station, The Storrs Agricultural Station, the Storrs 
Agricultural School and the Connecticut Agricultural 


College. All these projects were discussed in advance 
in the winter meetings and the opinion of the farming 
public obtained. 

"In no other state," said Prof. Atwater "has so much 
been done for the application of chemistry to agriculture 
as has been done in Connecticut through the agency of 
the Board of Agriculture." 

It would carry us too far to recite the subjects treated 
at these meetings which have been held annually, with 
possibly one exception, ever since. It is certain that the 
reports of proceedings in the earlier years are everywhere 
regarded as the most valuable of all similar reports and 
have been of the greatest help in the improvement of 
Connecticut farming. Especial praise is due to the serv- 
ice rendered by T. S. Gold, the secretary of the Board 
during a long series of years, for his most wise and effi- 
cient management of the meetings. 

The Board was abolished by resolution of the General 
Assembly on July 21st, 1870, but in 1871 The State 
Board of Agriculture was again incorporated by the same 
body. The new act of incorporation is quite like the old 
except that wider powers were conferred on the board. 

The Board could quarantine animals having infectious 
diseases, enter premises where such diseases were present 
or suspected and make necessary regulations to prevent 
a spread of the disease and to appoint three commissioners 
on diseases of domestic animals and delegate to them the 
powers of the Board. The Board elected besides a presi- 
dent, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, a veterinary 
surgeon, entomologist, botanist and chemist. Thus con- 
stituted, the Board continued to be active in providing 
for discussions of agricultural improvement and for in- 
formation both from scientific experts and from leaders 


in agricultural practice. In 1897 the Assembly reor- 
ganized the Board, providing that its eight members 
should be appointed by the Assembly, one from each 
county, rather than as before, by the agricultural so- 
cieties of the State. 

Two offshoots of the Board have had a very vigorous 
and helpful life : On April 10th, 1889, was incorporated 
the Connecticut Dairymen's Association. A brief report 
of its meeting in January, 1892, 25 pages, states that this 
is the eleventh annual meeting. 

It then had 45 life members and 43 annual members. 
It must therefore have been in existence for eight years 
before its incorporation. 

It has yearly held a general meeting of dairymen and 
has published valuable annual reports. It has also held 
dairy institutes and farm meetings about the State. In 
1900 it had 99 life members and 69 annual members. 

The Board of Agriculture had a pomologist and at its 
annual meetings were many discussions of interest to 
orchardists ; but as fruit growing increased in importance 
within the State, the growers desired more opportunity 
for discussion and promotion of their interests. 

A convention of fruit growers, called in 1891, or- 
ganized the Connecticut Pomological Society. This So- 
ciety, which in 1923 numbered 483 members, has for 
many years held annual meetings with fruit exhibits 
which are largely attended, frequent field meetings dur- 
ing the summers and farm institutes in all parts of the 
State. It has been the chief agency in promoting the in- 
terests of fruit growers. 

The Cream Hill Agricultural School. The use- 
fulness of technical schools of agriculture was anticipated 
long before their establishment. A debate in Yale Col- 


lege in 1789 is noted on the question : ''Whether it would 
be best to introduce agriculture into colleges as a classical 

In 1832 an effort was made to establish The Litchfield 
Agricultural High School and the corporation of Goshen 
Academy was asked to turn over the Academy to the 
promoters of the scheme, but they were refused and the 
plan failed (29). In 1842 the Connecticut Farmers Ga- 
zette announced that Rev. J. B. Noble proposes soon to 
open an agricultural institute in Bridgeport. No further 
notice of it has been found. 

Three years later, in 1845, The Cream Hill Agricul- 
tural School was established at West Cornwall and con- 
ducted by Dr. S. L. Gold, for years the principal physi- 
cian in Goshen, who had recently removed to his farm in 
West Cornwall, and his son, Theodore S. Gold, (Yale, 
1838), who, throughout his long life was an inspiring 
leader in the promotion of Connecticut agriculture. The 
prospectus of the school is in part : 

"The plan of this institution is to receive a select and 
limited number of pupils, under the superintendence of 
well qualified teachers, to be fitted for college, or any of 
the useful pursuits of life. 

"This school embraces two important departments of 
instruction. First: Thorough attention to the various 
elementary and scientific branches taught at the best 
academic institutions. Second : Both scientific and prac- 
tical instructions in Agriculture and Horticulture, em- 
bracing the most approved method of tillage, rearing of 
stock, cultivation of trees, the laying out of grounds, or- 
namental gardening, chemical analysis of soils, composts, 
etc. A portion of each day will be allotted to these sub- 
jects, so that the pupil may become a scientific and prac- 


tical farmer. The farm, containing 200 acres, with con- 
venient buildings, situated on Cream Hill, surrounded by 
a picturesque country scenery, furnishes a location un- 
rivalled for healthfulness and freedom from immoral ten- 
dencies and peculiarly fitted for such an institution. 

"The Housatonic railroad furnishes daily access to 
New York. The students will become members of the 
family of the instructors. A parental supervision will at 
all times be exercised over each individual. 

"All will be treated with kindness and every attention 
rendered, with affectionate regard to health, deportment 
and morals. 

"The institution will be conducted by Samuel L. Gold, 
Theodore S. Gold and Thomas R. Button. There will be 
two terms in each year; the first commencing the first 
Wednesday in May, and terminating the first Wednes- 
day in November; the second from the first Wednesday 
in December to the first Wednesday in April. 

"Terms : The pupils will be furnished with tuition, 
board, fuel, lights, washing, privileges of the library and 
riding, at $200 a year, one-half to be paid at the beginning 
of each term. 

"West Cornwall, Conn. March 31, 1845." 

In all, 272 pupils attended this school from its opening 
in 1845 until it was closed in 1869 on account of the 
pressure of other business. It opened with ten pupils. 
After that the number ranged from twelve to thirty-one, 
an average of more than twenty-two, probably all that the 
accommodations would permit. ^^ 

21 Prof. George J. Brush was one of the earliest students. He planned to 
enter a commercial establishment in New York City but here acquired an 
interest in chemistry and particularly in mineralogy the pursuit of which 
became his lifework until overshadowed by his administrative work as 
Director of the Sheffield Scientific School and the Agricultural College of 
the state. 


From the catalogue of 1849 we learn "Each pupil cul- 
tivates a garden of about 130 square yards; is instructed 
in laying out, planting and the application of manures. 
Small premiums are awarded for the best gardens. Ample 
opportunity is afforded each to acquire a knowledge of 
general farming, tending and rearing the various kinds 
of stock, etc." 

There is nothing in the catalogues to show any list of 

Mr. Button dropped out soon after the school was es- 
tablished and most, if not all, instruction was given by 
Dr. Gold and his son. 

The Storrs Agricultural School. In January, 
1881 Messrs. Augustus and Charles Storrs offered to the 
vState 180 acres of land and various buildings in the town 
of Mansfield for the purpose of establishing and main- 
taining an agricultural school. The buildings had been 
used previously as a home and school for the orphans of 
soldiers in the Civil War. The offer was accepted and the 
Storrs School was established. 

Its object, as set forth in the act of establishment, was 
"The education of boys ... in such branches of scien- 
tific knowledge as shall tend to increase their proficiency 
in the business of agriculture." 

A part of their time was to be spent in classroom work 
and a part in the practical work of the farm. The school 
continued for twelve years with fair success. During this 
time its attendance ranged from 40 to 63. In 1893, by 
act of the Assembly, its purpose was changed and it was 
renamed The Storrs Agricultural College. 

The Agricultural and Mechanical College of 
Connecticut. In 1840 Justus von Liebig issued his 


work on Chemistry in its Relations to Agriculture which 
started a great agricultural revolution and drew the at- 
tention of chemists throughout the world to the prob- 
lems of plant production. 

Between 1840 and 1850 Prof. Silliman at Yale gave 
instruction in these matters. In 1846 John P. Norton, 
the son of a Connecticut farmer, after training as a 
farmer and some years of study at Yale and at Boston 
and later in Scotland, (where he won a prize of fifty 
sovereigns, given by the Highland Society of Scotland 
for the best essay on the oat plant), opened a laboratory 
at Yale in connection with Silliman "for the purpose of 
practical instruction in the applications of science to the 
arts and agriculture." 

This was the beginning of the Sheffield Scientific 
School which first gave the degree of Ph. B. in 1851. 
Here Prof. Johnson studied and began the analysis of 
commercial fertilizers and detection of frauds in their 
sale, and for many years this was the only place connected 
with any college in America where that means of pro- 
tecting farmers was systematically followed. 

Norton, whose work was cut short by tuberculosis, was 
succeeded by Prof. John A. Porter. 

In the meantime Joseph E. Sheffield made a gift of 
$50,000 for the endowment of the School and during the 
rest of his life gave from ten thousand to twenty thousand 
dollars yearly to its support and made it as one of his 
children in the final division of his estate. In all he must 
have given more than a million dollars to its support. 

Under the management of Prof. Norton there was 
given the first course of Yale Agricultural Lectures, 

The views in which this course originated are given by 
which began Feb. 1, 1860, and closed Feb. 25. 


Prof. Porter as follows : The importance of new agencies 
for the diffusion of agricultural knowledge is emphasized. 

"Shall we wait for the establishment by government 
of great agricultural institutions, similar to those in Eu- 
rope? Such institutions are the most obvious and essen- 
tial wants of our times, but a public and general opinion 
of their utility and necessity must be created before either 
our state or national governments will seriously consider 
their establishment." 

Porter proposes "the enlistment of practical men, who 
are not professional teachers, in the work of instruction 
and their combination in such numbers, that a small con- 
tribution of time and labor from each shall make a suffi- 
cient aggregate to meet the object in view." 

The experiment was made under the auspices of the 
Yale Scientific School. At this course of lectures about 
350 students were registered and some 500 in attendance ; 
172 from Connecticut, 23 from Massachusetts, 35 from 
New York and a smaller number from 13 other states. 

Three lectures were given daily, morning, afternoon 
and evening. The subjects and lectures were : 

Agricultural Chemistry Prof. S. W. Johnson 

Entomology Dr. Asa Fitch of New York 

Vegetable Physiology Daniel C. Eaton 

Vegetable Pathology Chauncey E. Goodrich 

Pear Culture Marshall P. Wilder 

Grapes Dr. C. W. Grant 

Berries R. G. Pardee 

Fruit Trees P. Barry 

Fruits Lewis F. Allen 

Arboriculture Geo. B. Emerson 

The Honey Bee Mr. Ouimby 

Drainage Henry F. French 

Grasses .- John S. Gould 

Agricultural Associations Mason C. Weld 


Cereals Joseph Harris 

Root Crops T. S. Gold 

Tobacco and Hops W. H. Brewer 

Sandy Soils Levi Bartlett 

English Agriculture L. H. Tucker 

Profits of American Farming Josiah Quincy, Jr. 

Cattle Cassius M. Clay 

Stock Breeding in the United States Lewis F. Allen 

The Dairy Charles L. Flint 

Horses Sanford Howard 

Breeding and Training Horses Dr. D. F. Gulliver 

Sheep T. S. Gold 

The course proved to be very popular and stimulated 
the desire for regular courses of agricultural instruction. 
"Mr. Barry whitling at his pear tree before the audience 
is worth a whole treatise on grafting and pruning. Mr. 
Gold's discourse on sheep, interspersed with the bleating 
of his Cotswolds and punctuated with the black noses of 
his Southdowns, is worth a volume on mutton and wool."" 

This Institute was not continued. In the next year 
the outbreak of the Civil War made it seem unwise at that 
time and the establishment of the Agricultural College 
later made it less needed. But there is much evidence 
that greatly increased interest in scientific agriculture 
immediately followed. "In concluding, Mason Weld 
strongly advocated the establishment at once of an agri- 
cultural farm in connection with a thoroughly furnished 
laboratory, referring to the debt the world owes Lawes 
and Gilbert for their experiments at Rothamstead and to 
the weighty results developed by the investigations in 
France and Germany which latter country has now in 
operation more than forty experiment stations under the 

22 Brief abstracts of these lectures are given in the New England Home- 
stead for the year 1860. 


management of competent men of science in connection 
with practical farmers." 

Two years later the Morrill Act was passed by Con- 
gress which provided for the establishment of an Agri- 
cultural College in every state. 

By this act a grant of public land was made to each 
state for "the endowment, support and maintenance of 
at least one college where the leading object shall be, 
without excluding other scientific and classical studies, 
and including military tactics, to teach such branches of 
learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic 
arts in such manner as the legislatures of the states may 
respectively prescribe in order to promote the liberal and 
practical education of the industrial classes in the several 
pursuits and professions of life." 

The yearly grant to Connecticut yielded an income of 
only six or seven thousand dollars — a rather scanty sum 
for the establishment of an institution which should meet 
the requirements of the act. 

Yale College was the only institution which was at all 
capable of using the grant. It was already equipped for 
such work and was giving instruction in all the branches 
of study required under the act except in military tactics. 
The state having accepted the grant, in 1863 gave the 
income to the Yale corporation to be devoted to the sup- 
port of the Sheffield Scientific School for the maintenance 
of such instruction as shall carry out the intent of Con- 

The School was to furnish gratuitous tuition to such 
a number of pupils that their tuition, charged at the usual 
rate, would equal one-half of the income of the fund. The 
award of these scholarships was made by a committee, 
whose appointment was provided in the act. 


The State made a perpetual contract with Yale College 
and established it as the Agricultural and Mechanical 
College of the State, but contributed nothing more to its 
support. The government fund was, however, supple- 
mented by generous gifts from Joseph E. Sheffield as 
has been noted on a previous page. In 1890 Congress 
passed an act for the more complete endowment of the 
Agricultural Colleges by which they eventually received 
an additional sum of $25,000 annually. At this time there 
were eighty students in the Sheffield School on the agri- 
cultural scholarships. 

As soon as this appropriation was made, various col- 
leges of agriculture and the mechanic arts were bitterly 
attacked on the ground that they were not fulfilling the 
object of their existence and were maintaining colleges 
of too high grade and unsuitable requirements for the 
sons of farmers. As a consequence of this movement the 
General Assembly in 1893 transferred the government 
fund to the Storrs Agricultural School in the town of 
Mansfield, at the same time changing its name to the 
Storrs Agricultural College. 

A commission appointed to decide on the nature of the 
contract between the State and the Sheffield School 
awarded the latter $154,000 damages on account of the 
violation of the perpetual contract by the State. The 
Storrs Agricultural College had at this time an enroll- 
ment of about one hundred students and its courses were 
officially opened to women. In 1889 the name of the in- 
stitution was changed to the Connecticut Agricultural 

The College now has an attendance in all departments 
of 484. Its activities fall into three divisions; the Resi- 


dent Instruction, the Storrs Agricultural Station and the 
Extension Service which are noticed later. 
The Resident Instruction offers: 

1. A four year course in Agriculture leading to the 
bachelor's degree. Graduates of high schools, accredited 
by the State Board of Education are entitled to enter this 

2. A four year course in Home Economics, for young 
women, leading to the bachelor's degree. Open to grad- 
uates of high schools as above. 

3. A two year course in Agriculture, divided into 
four ten-week terms. Open to those who have had a 
common school education. Those completing the four 
terms' work are given a diploma. 

4. A summer school in Home Economics for those 
who desire teacher training in that subject. 

5. Short course in Agriculture is given to men and 
women of the State who can be away from home duties 
for a short time only. 

Agricultural Extension Work — 
County Farm Bureaus 

On May 8, 1914 a national system of co-operative ex- 
tension work in agriculture and home economics was pro- 
vided by the so-called Smith-Lever bill. By it Congress 
appropriated $480,000, providing an annual increase for 
eight years until the total sum annually appropriated 
reached $4,580,000. Congress has since appropriated an 
additional $1,300,000 for the same purpose as the Smith- 
Lever fund and a further appropriation of about $1,300,- 
000 for co-operative demonstration work. 

In order to secure Federal Smith-Lever funds, the 


several states must appropriate an equal amount for the 
support of extension work. 

These funds are divided between the states on a basis 
of their rural population. Under these several acts Con- 
necticut receives $68,950.09 from Federal funds which 
is supplemented by appropriations from the State amount- 
ing at this date to $75,000 annually. 

The Extension Service is, therefore, part of a national 
system of agricultural education estabHshed by Federal 
laws. It is a division of the Agricultural College which 
is carrying information and instruction in improved 
methods of farming and home making to the people of 
the State, through demonstrations, meetings, letters, news 
stories, campaigns, field trips and farm and home visits. 
Further than this it is the work of the extension service 
to interest farmers and home makers in putting these 
improved methods into practice. It is concerned as much 
with assisting in solving the problems of marketing as 
it is with solving the problems of production. 

The extension work is carried on by a staff of men and 
women. Some of these are specialists in the various 
branches of agriculture and home making, such as dairy- 
ing, fruit growing, poultry raising, nutrition, clothing, 
etc., who work throughout the .State and have headquar- 
ters at Storrs. The other extension workers are county 
representatives of the Extension Service and are known 
as County Agents, doing work in agriculture with adults ; 
Home Demonstration Agents, working with women on 
home problems; and County Club Agents, the latter 
carrying work with boys and girls, commonly known as 
club work. 

Practically all the work is carried out in conjunction 
with the county workers. The Extension service reaches 


the entire family; men, women, boys and girls. The 
specialist studies the industry which he represents, in 
order to learn its problems and recommends the improve- 
ments which should be encouraged and the methods which 
should be used in extension teaching. Co-operating with 
the Extension Service are the County Farm Bureaus in 
each county, supported by membership fees, voluntary 
contributions and when these amount to $1,000, by grants 
from the college and State. In 1921 seven Farm Bureaus 
formed a state federation and through it joined the Amer- 
ican Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization, 
maintaining a representative in Washington and interest- 
ing itself in legislative questions which affect the farming 

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment 
Station. The object in establishing this station was to 
apply the methods of scientific research in solving those 
problems of the farm which needed the time, equipment 
and technical knowledge which the farmer himself could 
not supply. 

Connecticut was the first State to establish such a 
station after many years of effort to convince the public 
of the need. 

The demonstration which Connecticut made of its value 
quickly induced other states to create similar stations and 
now they are found in every state, territory and insular 
possession of the United States. 

A brief notice of the development of the idea for 
twenty years from the early fifties is interesting. In 1853 
and the following years, articles by Prof. S. W. Johnson 
of the Sheffield Scientific School, published in the Country 
Gentleman, discussed the contributions of science to agri- 


culture, the feeding of farm animals, food for plants, 
superphosphate of lime, etc., calling attention to the ap- 
plications of science to agriculture and perhaps for the 
first time in this country, to the quality of commercial 
fertilizers. Such fertilizers were then, for the first time 
coming into common use, extravagant claims for their 
virtues were often made and no knowledge of their com- 
position given; there was danger of too much faith in 
their virtues and too little knowledge of their proper use. 
In 1856 Johnson's exposures of fraud in fertilizers led 
to his appointment as chemist of the Connecticut Agri- 
cultural Society and the continuance of his work on that 

A lecture on ''The Relations which Exist between Sci- 
ence and Agriculture," delivered in Albany, in 1856 and 
published in the Transactions of the New York State 
Agricultural Society, excited wide interest and discus- 
sion. There followed almost twenty years of preaching 
and teaching by Johnson on the need of applying to the 
art of agriculture the teachings of natural science. His 
laboratory work as chemist of the State Board of Agri- 
culture and the publication of its results in the annual re- 
ports stirred the desire of farmers to enlist the aid of 
research in the every day work of the farm. 

Important in this educational work were his two books, 
How Crops Grow. A Treatise on the Chemical Composi- 
tion, Structure and Life of the Plant, for all Students of 
Agriculture; published in 1868, and How Crops Feed, 
A Treatise on the Atmosphere and the Soil as Related to 
the Nutrition of Agricultural Plants, published in 1870. 
His object, as stated by himself, was "to digest the cum- 
brous mass of evidence in which the truths of vegetable 
nutrition lie buried out of the reach of the ordinary in- 


quirer and to set them forth in proper order and in plain 
dress for their legitimate and sober uses." 

At the instance of von Liebig the book was translated 
into German by his son. It was reprinted in England, 
translated into Italian, Russian, Swedish and Japanese 
for use as a textbook in those countries. 

Two Connecticut men, Jared Eliot in the eighteenth 
and S. W. Johnson in the nineteenth century wrote books 
on scientific agriculture, which probably had the widest 
influence on farming in America of any during this 

In 1873 Prof. W. O. Atwater of Wesleyan University, 
a former pupil and assistant of Johnson's, joined in 
urging the establishment in the State of an Agricultural 
Experiment Station and in their addresses before the 
Board of Agriculture and frequent gatherings of farmers 
through the State emphasized the advantage and need of 
applying to the art of farming the teachings of natural 
science and the wisdom of providing an agency whereby 
the problems of the farm, which the farmer had neither 
the time, the facilities, or the expert knowledge to solve 
for himself, could be studied and possibly solved by ex- 
perts in an institution specially fitted for this purpose. 

In 1874 the Board of Agriculture, at the recommenda- 
tion of a committee through its chairman, Prof. Johnson 
appointed a permanent committee to urge on farmers and 
the Legislature the immediate establishment of an agri- 
cultural station. Later this committee reported that a 
bill for this purpose had been introduced into the General 
Assembly, held by the committee of the Assembly till 
near the close of the session and then reported, recom- 
.mending that it be laid over to the next session. 


Again in the Assembly of 1875 the attempt was made 

But Mr. Orange Judd, an agricultural editor and a 
trustee of Wesleyan University, urged the formation of 
an association to provide money for an agricultural sta- 
tion by private subscription, a plan which was contrary 
to the wishes of the committee of the Board of Agricul- 
ture. He however, secured the passage of the following 
resolution in the spring of 1875, thus establishing in Con- 
necticut the first Agricultural Experiment Station in 

To Promote Agricultural Interests 

Whereas, The trustees of the university at Middle- 
town tender the free use of laboratories and other facili- 
ties for establishing and carrying on an experiment sta- 
tion for the general benefit and improvement of agricul- 
ture and kindred interests of the State of Connecticut, 
be it 

Resolved by this Assembly, That the sum of seven 
hundred dollars per quarter for two years, is hereby ap- 
propriated to the University located at Middletown, 
Middlesex County, to be used in employing competent 
scientific men to carry on the work appropriate to an 
agricultural station. 

In addition to this appropriation Mr. Judd subscribed 
one thousand dollars. A very full and admirable account 
of the whole movement is given in "From the Letter 
Files of S. W. Johnson," edited by his daughter, Eliza- 
beth A. Osborne. 

This station was under the exclusive control of the 
trustees of Wesleyan University and an impression, 


founded upon Mr. Judd's utterances and personal atti- 
tude was widespread that the purpose of this station was 
for the analysis of commercial fertilizers alone. Such 
however, was not at all the position of Prof. Atwater, 
who was chosen as its director. In his first report he 
says : "It has been felt from the first that more abstract 
scientific investigation would afford not only the proper, 
but also the most widely and permanently useful work 
of an agricultural station. Such an institution will be 
worthy of the name in proportion as it carries on accurate 
and thorough investigation and experiment in agricul- 
tural science." 

But to prove to the farming public the present need of 
an agricultural station and thus to secure for it a firmer 
and more liberal basis, stress was first laid on the situa- 
tion of the fertilizer trade — a continuation of Johnson's 
work — in which there was "bitter need" of a better con- 
dition. In the two following years a large part of the 
station time was devoted to the examination of fertilizers. 
Some examinations of dairy feed were also made, the 
testing of agricultural seeds, effects of nitrogenous fer- 
tilizers on the growth of corn, a study of the fertilizer 
needs of the soil of the Wallingford plains, etc. 

A prominent feature of the station work was co-op- 
erative experiments with fertilizers on lands in different 
parts of the State and later, under Prof. Atwater's di- 
rections, in several other States, the results of which were 
printed in the reports of the State Board of Agriculture, 
from 1877 to 1881. Thus a new agency for the advance 
of agriculture was founded and the example was speedily 
followed by some other States. 

Five, at least of Prof. Atwater's assistants in this work 
soon became workers and leaders in other places ; W. Bal- 


lentine, Professor of Agriculture in the Maine Agricul- 
tural College; E. H. Jenkins, chemist and later director 
of the Connecticut station; W. H. Jordan, director of 
the Maine and then for many years director of the New 
York, (Geneva) station; A. T. Neale, director of the 
New Jersey and later of the Delaware station and C. D. 
Woods, director of the Maine station. 

Before the appropriation for the station had expired 
the General Assembly passed "An Act Establishing the 
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station," "for the 
purpose of promoting agriculture by scientific investiga- 
tion and experiment," and granted $5,000 annually to its 
support. In its organization this station differs from all 
others. Besides having no organic connection with any 
agricultural College it is an independent unit having most 
of the rights of a corporation, with power to sue and be 
sued, to receive gifts and to hold property. It is managed 
by a Board of Control, consisting of the Governor, two 
appointed by the Governor and one each by the State 
Board of Agriculture, the State Agricultural Society, 
Wesleyan University and the Sheffield Scientific School. 
The director is ex ojfi.cio a member. Prof. Johnson was 
chosen director and the station was placed at New Haven. 
As it was not possible to secure permanent quarters from 
the fund appropriated, the Sheffield Scientific School gave 
the free use of laboratory and office room until 1882 
when the State provided land and buildings which the 
station has occupied ever since. In 1887 the first Federal 
aid was given to the stations of the United States by the 
Hatch Act which ultimately provided $15,000 to each 
state to be by the state paid to such institution as it might 
designate, the "object and duty of the station" being to 
conduct original researches or verify experiments on the 


physiology of animals and plants. The General Assembly 
gave one-half of this fund to the Connecticut Station and 
half to the newly established Storrs Agricultural Station 
to be noticed later. 

In 1896, by the Adams Act of Congress, $15,000 ad- 
ditional was given to each state and this sum was likewise 
equally divided between the two Connecticut stations. 

This appropriation was to be used only for pure re- 
search work, a restriction which has greatly helped the 
more fundamental v/ork of all the stations. The appro- 
priations by the State to the Connecticut station gradually 
increased as the scope of its work and the demands made 
upon it have grown. A very brief notice of some of its 
labors should here be given to indicate the scope and 
nature of it. 

It taught and proved by field trials the value of spray- 
ing for the protection of field crops and orchards from 
fungi and insects. 

It has studied the life history of each new insect and 
fungus pest as it has appeared and the best methods of 
fighting it; the San Jose scale, the gyps}^ moth, the pine 
blister rust, the elm leaf beetle, etc. 

It has directed the work of mosquito elimination and 
accomplished much with the insufficient means at its dis- 

By its inspection and reports it has exposed the frauds 
in food and fertilizers and drove most of them out of the 
State before the Federal Government undertook any of 
that work. 

As a part of that work it has examined all the special 
foods made and recommended for diabetic patients and 
the reports on them are the standard reference for spe- 
cialists in the treatment of this disease. 


The long" continued and fruitful researches of Dr. Os- 
borne have identified and showed the ultimate and struc- 
tural composition and properties of the principal vege- 
table proteins. 

An inquiry into their relative nutritive value has led 
to extensive studies in nutrition, has perfected a new 
and most fruitful method of experiment in this field, has 
led to the discovery of vitamines and studies of their func- 
tion and to medical studies on the cause of rickets, infer- 
tility, etc. 

The study of plant breeding here has shown the futility 
of certain recommended methods of inbreeding and selec- 
tion and by methods first adopted here has produced new 
and improved strains of corn and tobacco and has demon- 
strated methods of developing superior strains of field 
crops which have secured general recognition. 

It substituted for the very unfair method of payment 
of cream by the space, the Babcock method of determin- 
ing and paying for butter fat only, by adapting it for 
cream gathering creameries and proving its value. 

It made, at the request of dairymen, a comparison of 
economy between the gravity and the separator systems 
of raising cream for butter making creameries. 

It introduced into the State the successful growing of 
shade tobacco and the method of fermentation in bulk 
and by its very elaborate field tests with fertilizers has 
greatly advanced the tobacco growing industry in the 

The station established an experimental forest for the 
study of forest problems, aided in the planting of private 
and corporation forests, besides giving advice by ad- 
dresses and field demonstrations in the management of 
the farmer's wood lot. 


These illustrations, by no means a summary, give some 
idea of the range of the station's work and show how it 
has gradually become a public service agency. While de- 
signed solely for the benefit of agriculture and while its 
main effort is directed to that end, circumstances have 
drawn it in several directions into the service of the whole 

The station has also from its staff, furnished teachers 
and research men to other states and institutions. Some 
of them are : 

H. P. Armsby, Professor of Agricultural Chemistry 
in the University of Wisconsin, Director of the Pennsyl- 
vania Station and later Director of the Pennsylvania Bu- 
reau of Animal Nutrition. 

E. M. East, Professor of Genetics in Harvard Uni- 

W. Mulford, Professor of Forestry, University of 

S. W. Spring, Professor of Forestry, Cornell Uni- 

R. Thaxter, Professor of Cryptogamic Botany, Har- 
vard University. 

H. L. Wells, Professor of Analytical Chemistry, Yale 

E. H. Farrington, Professor of Dairy Husbandry, 
Wisconsin Agricultural College. 

The Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station. 
In accepting the provisions of the Federal Hatch Act the 
General Assembly provided that "the farm attached to 
the Storrs Agricultural School may be used as an experi- 
mental farm for the purposes specified" in the Federal 
act and also provided that one-half of the Federal ap- 


propriation which came to the State should be used by the 
trustees of the school under the provisions of the act. 

Prof. W. O. Atwater was chosen director and during 
the eighteen years of his service, the field and farm work 
of the station was done at the Storrs Agricultural School 
and the more purely scientific investigations were carried 
on in the laboratories of Wesleyan University. In 1903 
the station w^as reorganized and its office was removed to 
Storrs where a small building was erected for its use. 
Prof. Atwater resigned his office and Prof. L. A, Clinton 
became his successor. 

Perhaps the most striking work of this station up to 
this time was that of Atwater and Woods which proved 
the assimilation of free nitrogen by leguminous crops. It 
is believed that this work, done in 1881 and 1882 supplied, 
by convincing evidence, the first proof of this function of 
the legumes. It was reported briefly at the meeting of the 
American Association for the Advancement of Science 
in 1881 and at the meetings of the American and British 
Associations in 1882, and in detail in the American 
Chemical Journal in 1885. Before the latter date the 
more elaborate work of European investigators on the 
same subject was published in scientific journals. 

The studies on the composition and value of foods for 
human populations on w^hich Atwater was engaged in 
1877, the introduction of the bomb calorimeter about 
1890, of a respiration calorimeter in 1896, studies of di- 
etaries with determination of energy values, digestion ex- 
periments with animals, (1896), mark the beginning in 
this country of the studies of foods and the food require- 
ments of populations which now fill a large place in the 
public regard and found a very special value in the world 
war. Much of this work, reported in the publications of 


the Storrs station was done with funds contributed by 
various outside institutions and individuals. It was not 
until 1895 that the State appropriated $1,800 yearly for 
studies of food economy and the bacteria of milk. 

The studies of bacteria in relation to dairy practice, be- 
gan at the station in 1888 by Dr. H. W. Conn and carried 
on by him and his assistants into the next century, and 
the introduction of the covered milk pail have been of 
great educational value to the dairymen and the public and 
have laid the foundation of the improvement in the sani- 
tary quality of milk produced and sold in this State. 

The nutrition studies of the station were discontinued 
with the removal to Storrs, but the bacterial studies on 
dairy products were continued. 

The field tests of fertilizers in all parts of the State, be- 
gun in 1875 were continued until into the next century. 

Of importance was also an extensive study of the com- 
position and fertilizer value of the roots and stubble of 

The work in poultry, intensively carried on soon after 
1900, has determined the nature and cause of bacillary 
diarrhoea in poultry and shown the effective means for 
combating it. 

The use of pigmentation and other criteria for select- 
ing laying hens has resulted in extensive rejection of un- 
profitable birds and consequent reduction of the cost of 
egg production. 

The studies of the factors affecting artificial incuba- 
tion, of the egg production of different breeds, and of the 
means of controlling parasites of poultry, have all con- 
tributed much to the profit of poultry raising. 

The studies of infectious abortion, still in progress, 


have already thrown much light on this obscure and very- 
destructive disease. 

A comparative test of the yield of the chief varieties 
of corn grown in the State, made in co-operation with the 
Connecticut station, and continued for nine years has in- 
dicated which varieties are on the average the most pro- 
ductive and which are best adapted to the different sec- 
tions of the State. 

This statement is made merely to give an impression 
but no complete statement of the range of the station's 

Among those who have been on the station staff and 
have since served important agricultural interests may be 
mentioned, W. A. Stocking, Jr., now professor of dairv 
bacteriology in Cornell University; Dr. Charles Thom,. 
for years assigned to the station as mycologist by the 
U. S. Department of Agriculture, who was later chief 
mycologist of that Department; Dr. H. W. Conn, bac- 
teriologist, a professor at Wesleyan University, chief of 
the State Board of Health laboratory and a leading dairy 
bacteriologist; C. L. Beach, formerly professor of dairy 
husbandry at the station, then at the University of Ver- 
mont and now president of the Connecticut Agricultural 

The Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry is an agency 
which has helped to increase agricultural knowledge in 
less formal ways than those already cited as well as to 
promote social intercourse among farmers. 

The National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry 
was organized Dec. 4, 1867. The founders "looked for 
advantages to come to the farmers through social and in- 
tellectual intercourse, not through political action." 

The first local grange was organized in Washington, 


D. C, its members being largely government clerks and 
employees. It was a weak organization until 1871 but the 
panic of 1873 which fell on farmers with great severity, 
greatly increased the grange activity and led to the wild 
"granger" legislation at the west. In that year granges 
were formed in all but four states, of which Connecticut 
was one. The organization was at its maximum in 1875 
when the membership was probably over one million, but 
interest declined till in 1880 there were only 4,000 active. 

The State grange in Connecticut was organized, April 
15, 1875 but was not successful till about 1885 when a 
new State grange was organized at South Glastonbury. 
In that year there were sixteen granges in the State. But 
the order grew rapidly. In 1892 there were eight Pomona 
granges, 146 subordinate granges with 10,000 members. 
From about that time the numbers decreased. Of 155 
granges organized in Connecticut since the beginning 
twenty per cent have died. 

The grange in Connecticut has never been very suc- 
cessful as a co-operative agency in marketing, nor has it 
assumed political activity as a distinct party element. It 
has been of very considerable value, however, in the way 
contemplated by the founders noted above. It has pro- 
moted social intercourse, mental improvement and exer- 
cise in public speaking and writing. 

It has drawn many from the isolation of their farms 
into intercourse with a wider social circle, before the days 
of improved roads, automobiles and by them the possi- 
bility of sharing in the attractions of the city, lessened 
the popularity and the need of the grange. 


The Development of Agricultural Tools 

"The nineteenth century witnessed greater improve- 
ments in agricuhural methods and machinery than any 
— if not all — the centuries that had gone before." At 
its beginning all agricultural tools were of the rudest 
kind, designed almost wholly for hand labor and either 
made on the farm with the aid of the blacksmith or of 
some local carpenter. No two were exactly alike. 

Thus up to 1790 wheat was sown by hand, cut with a 
sickle, thrashed and winnowed by hand (66). The cradle 
scythe was in common use before the beginning of the 
century and Brewer states that between the time of the 
declaration of independence and the introduction of the 
cast iron plow, some fifty years later, the most important 
improvements in agricultural machinery were the Ameri- 
can cradle and the fanning mill for cleaning grain and 
other seeds. 

The plow was a very clumsy affair, with a mould board 
hewn from wood, protected from wear by old scraps of 
sheet iron or tin nailed to it. 

The share was generally of iron with a hardened point. 
The beam was a straight stick with upright handles cut 
from branches of trees. 

A powerful man was needed to hold it and twice the 
draft required for a modern plow. Ex-president Jefferson 
first laid down the mathematical principles by which 
mould boards could be made by anyone with the certainty 
of all being effective and alike. His ideas were put in 
practice about 1793. Charles Newbold of New Jersey 
made the first cast-iron plow in the country, all cast in 
one piece, which was patented in 1 797. 

But for a long time a farm tradition, which seems to 


have been imported from England, that the iron plow 
"kills the life of the land" hindered its general use. Corn 
land was thought to be specially injured by it and wooden 
plows were used by some farmers for plowing corn land, 
long after they were discarded for other uses. 

"This ol' motor plow," said Kipling's bailiff not long 
ago, "may be all right in Ameriky, but it don't turn the 
earth not a spit deep — 'taint no good for the honor of the 
land." These traditions, foolish as they may seem, are 
yet signs of that care, love and almost reverence for the 
soil, "The honor of the soil," which was ingrained in our 
English forbears and happily runs in some measure in 
the blood of their descendants and which is now leading 
the most progressive back to more careful study of the 
nature of the soil itself and the methods of caring for it. 
For soil is seen to be not the dull, dead thing so many 
imagine but teeming with life. It largely determines the 
kind of crops which can be successfully raised in any re- 
gion. While permanent exhaustion of soil is rare, an un- 
derstanding of its nature, of the life within it and the 
sanitation of this life are necessary if agriculture is to 
meet the demands now made upon it. 

The cast-iron plow was rarely used before 1820. The 
Hawkes plow made in Hartford, became popular between 
1830 and 1833 and at that time "everybody had them." 
Fairbanks of St. Johnsbury also made iron plows in 1826 
and their use spread rapidly down the Connecticut valley. 

The cast-iron plow was much improved by Joel Nourse 
and his partners in Massachusetts in 1836 and was in 
great demand in the twenty years following. It is stated 
that 20,000 plows were sold by them in a single year. The 
number of patents on plows, prior to 1830 was 124, up to 
1848 between 300 and 400. 


Apparently the steel and wrought-iron plow was 
patented in 1808, a side hill plow in 1831, the coulter at- 
tachment in 1834, jointer in 1884, and probably the 
wheel, gang and steam plow somewhat earlier. 

The sulky plow was in use in 1844. The steam tractor 
plow was invented and used some time in the sixties. 
Threshing machines were introduced early in the nine- 
teenth century. 

There are various contestants for the honor of invent- 
ing the grain reaper but the record of the McCormick 
reaper will sufficiently indicate the time of the introduc- 
tion of this labor-saving machine which has made possible 
the enormous expansion of wheat growing. 

The invention began in 1809. It was not then a suc- 
cess though it had the main features vital to all grain 
cutting machines. Between 1820 and 1830 the machine 
was made serviceable and was patented in 1834. A num- 
ber were made prior to 1844. In that year twenty-five 
were built, double that number in 1845 and the next year 
a yet larger number. From 1845 to 1860 the model re- 
mained unchanged except for the addition of seats for 
the raker and driver. The machine cut the grain and left 
it on the ground in loose bundles. The self-binder was 
added in 1872 using wire binders. In 1880 twine was sub- 

A successful mowing machine was patented in 1822 by 
Jeremiah Bailey of Pennsylvania, which "cut grass in 
the neatest manner, where land was smooth, with a swath 
about five feet wide and lays the grass in regular rows." 
But the foundation of the present mower rests on the 
patent of Hussey in 1833. Subsequent changes have been 
improvements of his idea. Mowers were not in general 
use before 1850. 


The period of the invention of other farming tools now 
in use in greatly improved form was apparently in the 
three decades following 1830. The horse cultivator was 
devised by Jethro Tull of England early in the eighteenth 
century and of a drill seeder in 1733. 

Jared Eliot's seeder and manure distributor has al- 
ready been noted, (page 344). The first patent for a corn 
planter was granted to Eliakim Spooner of Vermont, in 
1799. The first potato digger was invented about 1833. 

The Connecticut Courant, July 31, 1821, announces "a 
machine for sowing small seeds with perfect regularity 
and in any desired quantity has lately been invented." But 
the manufacture of grain drills began about 1840. 

At the beginning of the century farm wagons were al- 
most unknown, two-wheeled carts being more convenient 
with oxen. Chaises and coaches then began to be used for 
travel. Light, one-horse wagons came into use about 1830. 

Commercial Fertilizers. Until the middle of the 
century the fertilizers used in the State other than farm 
manure were lime in various forms, land plaster, swamp 
muck and marine mud and on the coast farms, fish, fol- 
lowing the Indian practice. But soon after 1840, follow- 
ing the appearance of von Liebig's work on Chemistry 
in Its Applications to Agriculture, attention began to be 
called to concentrated or commercial fertilizers. 

Probably Peruvian guano was the first used. Then the 
business of fertilizer manufacture began and chemical 
manures "as good as Peruvian guano" were put on the 
market. In 1856 the manufacture of dry fish manures be- 
gan. The opening of mines of phosphate rock in South 
Carolina and later in Florida and development of the 
German potash industry early in the Sixties furnished the 


material for an extensive use of soluble phosphates and 
potash salts. The concentration of beef slaughtering for 
the market in great establishments made necessary and 
profitable the reduction of offal to an inoffensive and 
transportable form, which at once found its use in nitrog- 
enous manures. Nitrate of soda from Chili was also an 
important addition to the fertilizer material and in re- 
cent years the recovery of ammonia from the coke manu- 
facture and the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen have 
further added to it. 

In the early years some were sceptical or denied the 
value of commercial fertilizers and others had often too 
much faith in them, as a kind of patent medicine, to cure 
all defects of soil or tillage. The proper regulation of the 
trade and the protection from frauds, as is noted on page 
378 became very necessary and was a chief reason, in the 
minds of many farmers, for the establishment of an 
agricultural station. A law was passed in 1869 requiring 
the labeling of commercial fertilizers with a statement of 
composition. But with time the manufacture of fertilizers 
has become as reliable as any other kind of manufacture, 
the goods are sold largely on the basis of their content of 
plant food and farmers have come to a better understand- 
ing of the way in which they should be used. At the 
present time 60,000 to 70,000 tons yearly are used in the 
State, for which farmers pay probably not less than five 
million dollars; by the census of 1919 about $4,900,000. 
Calculating the amounts paid on the value of the dollar in 
1913, the increase in the amount paid yearly for fertilizers 
is the last decade has been about $360,000. 

The foregoing shows the development of the educa- 
tional and material aids to agriculture which were forced 


by the increasing demands made upon it by the growth of 
population and the increasing diversity of employment. 

It remains to notice the more important farming in- 
terests which have from time to time flourished in the last 
and the present centuries. 

At no time have there been such large farms as in many 
other states. 

Never has Connecticut been a one-crop State, In each 
period there have been a number of farming interests 
which were moderately profitable and at the same time 
others which were growing or decreasing in importance. 

Horses and Mules. In the last century horses had 
been exported from Connecticut to the West Indies and 
the business was of considerable importance after the 
close of the Revolution and into the early years of the new 
century. The following, (43, 1855), from a correspond- 
ent in Coventry illustrates the conditions : 

"From the settlement to the close of the revolution 
horses were of medium size, mostly pacers, small bones, 
large muscles and great endurance. 

"Farmers in Coventry rode to Boston, 72 miles in one 
day and back the next. There was quite a business there, 
(Coventry) in raising horses for the West Indies trade. 
Every farmer of means kept five to ten horses, small 
boned, active, good under the saddle, mostly pacers and 
amblers. Then the raising of horses declined and mules 
were raised instead. Then the western states supplied 
the mule market at lower prices and that business ceased. 
About that time the merino sheep business came in." 

Beef and Pork. At the beginning of the century Gov. 
Trumbull refers to the raising of beef and pork as a lead- 
ing industry in the State. 


Much was packed for sale in foreign parts and for 
years there was a good domestic demand for beef. In 
Litchfield County droves of two-year-olds were brought 
from Vermont and New York, fed during the winter on 
^rain and roughage, finished off on pasture during the 
summer and sold in the fall. The same thing was done in 
other parts of the State. Devons, Short Horns and Here- 
fords were common, but since 1840 to 1850 the number 
hoth of oxen and swine reported in the Census has shrunk 
though swine have increased in the last twenty years, but 
to only about half the number reported in 1840. 

The introduction of dressed beef and pork by rail from 
the west has put an end to any very considerable beef pro- 
duction in this State. 

Dairying and Dairy Stock. The original or so- 
called "native" stock of Connecticut undoubtedly came 
from Devonshire and the adjoining Counties of Somer- 
setshire and Gloucestershire where the Devon breed pre- 
vailed and where had been the home of many of the New 
England settlers. This stock has been called mongrel or 
inferior by some writers. But any inferiority was prob- 
ably due rather to the inferior shelter, pasture and feed, 
and lack of the chance to improve by breeding in the new 
country than to anything inherent in the animals them- 
selves. "The Commons, the Greens, the Parks, so fre- 
quently found in our towns and cities, are landmarks of 
those early times when each man's cows were gathered 
into a common herd for better care and protection." 

The "Town" bull, "Town" herdsman and a "Town" 
brand also testifv to the care of the communitv for the 


individual owner of cows, as well as the constant mixture 
of good and poor strains. 

Meadows and pastures first had some intelligent care 
with the opening of the new century. A writer in 1813 
says: "The introduction of clover . . . has within the 
last ten years made a very sensible improvement in the 
agriculture of this country. Indeed it is only within the 
last twenty years that any grass seed has been sown, and 
it will be no exaggeration to say that more clover seed has 
been put in within the last eight years than has ever been 
since the country was inhabited," 

It is true that there was little, if any thoroughbred 
stock in Connecticut until near the middle of the century, 
but on the other hand the stock brought over by immi- 
grants would naturally have been as carefully selected as 
was possible and the records of butter and cheese made 
and sold in the early part of the century indicate that 
there were many "good milkers" — as is always the case 
— among these "native" cattle. 

In 1819 the first full-blood Devon bull was imported 
and in 1820 two full-blood heifers by S. and L. Hurlburt 
of Winchester Center, (who were the originators. I be- 
lieve, of the Hurlburt apple). From this stock the first 
working cattle came which commanded high prices. 

The Hurlburt's raised and sold 1,500 of them. At the 
Hartford fair in 1825 the Hurlburts showed some fine 
Devonshire bulls and Ayrshire and Holderness steers and 
heifers. In a report of the Hartford fair it is said that 
"probably no section of our country can produce a finer 
race of native cattle than this County. Most of the for- 
eign breeds of known and established excellence are now 
propagated within the limits of this Society, half blooded 
Holderness, Ayrshire and Devonshire cows took prem- 


iums." The first pure herd book, of which I find notice, 
is of short horn cattle, begun in 1835 at East Windsor. 
The early importations of Jersey cattle are most difficult 
to trace. The animals were called indifferently Jerseys, 
Guernseys or Alderneys and they were interbred indis- 
criminately. The marked differences between Guernsey 
and Jersey today are largely changes which have developed 
by careful selection and breeding since 1870. 

It is stated, (41, Vol. IV), that "nearly, if not quite the 
earliest importation of Jersey cows into Connecticut was 
in 1846 when J. A. Taintor brought into Hartford County 
twelve of the best cows that he could find on the Island of 
Jersey." The earliest imported Jerseys to become regis- 
tered later were brought over in 1850 by Messrs. Buell 
and Norton to Connecticut. Somewhat later C. R. Alsop 
imported two Jerseys which he sold to Lyman A. Mills of 
Middlefield in 1869 and which appear in Vol. I of the 
Jersey Register. He continued as a breeder of Jerseys 
until 1896 when he sold his herd of 32 head to C. I. Hood 
of the Hood farm. 

Says a recent writer: "When the "Great West" first 
began to make itself vocal in Jersey Club affairs, there 
were more Jerseys in Connecticut than in all the great 

The first Guernseys, the records of which were kept 
so that they could be recorded in the registry, were im- 
ported in 1830 or 1831 by Mr. Prince of Boston. About 
1874 a number of importations of Guernseys into Con- 
necticut were made by C. M. Beach of West Hartford, 
which were the foundation of the herd of E. Norton of 
Farmington, who was the secretary of the Guernsey 
registry. The Guernsey herd book was established in 


The first thoroughbred herd of Holstein-Friesian stock 
was imported into this country about 1860 when W. W. 
Chenery of Behnont, Mass., imported a bull and four 
cows which founded the breed in this country. One of 
;he earliest importers into this State was M. L. Stoddard 
of Newington. From him A. B. Pierpont of Waterbury 
bought a bull which, with other pure bloods, founded a 
fine thoroughbred herd. As this breed is distinctly high 
milk-producing it has become very popular since fresh 
milk rather than butter has become the chief product of 
dairy farms. A total of 7,757 Holsteins have been im- 
ported, most of them between 1879 and 1890 and from 
them our present thoroughbred stock has descended. The 
number of registered Holsteins in the country in 1915 
was 92,048. 

The first blooded Ayrshires brought to the United 
States, came to Connecticut in 1822. In 1837 the Massa- 
chusetts Society for promoting Agriculture established 
its first herd of Ayrshires. 

Flint states (27), that "in the opinion of many good 
judges the dairy stock of New England has not been im- 
proved in its intrinsic good qualities during the last thirty 
or forty years. Cows of the very highest order as milkers 
were as frequently met with, they say, in 1825 as at the 
present, 1858." 

The general conditions seem to have been these. Early 
in the century English cattle were imported, Durhams, 
Devons, Aberdeens, Herefords and Shorthorns and later, 
when dairy products, rather than beef and draft cattle 
became necessary, came Ayrshires, Jerseys, Guernseys 
and later Holsteins. But these were used at first chiefly 
for "breeding up" the dairy stock with little attention to 
establishing thoroughbred herds. Phelps says (53), 


Shorthorns and Devonshires, prior to 1870 were leading 
breeds (in Litchfield County) "but when dairying as a 
business came in, Connecticut became the home of some 
of the best old world breeds. 

In fact there was no science of breeding until Darwin 
laid the foundations in his series of books on biology, be- 
ginning in 1859. 

Cheese Manufacture. In 1792 Alexander Norton of 
Goshen, being sent to the South for his health, bought 
cheese to sell again at the South. The venture was so suc- 
cessful that he continued the business, packing it first in 
hogsheads, but later in round boxes which he devised, 
each carrying two cheeses. This was the beginning of an 
important cheese making industry in this section. In 1845 
Litchfield County made more than 2^ million pounds of 
cheese annually, and Windham County 850,000 pounds. 
Dwight says, (24, Vol. II), "The inhabitants of Goshen 
are probably more wealthy than any other collection of 
farmers in New England equally numerous. The quantity 
of cheese made by them is estimated at 400,000 pounds. 
This place seems to have been a pioneer in the cheese man- 
ufacture on a large scale and no other place in the State 
did more than a very limited business in cheese making." 

The first pineapple cheese was made by Lewis M. Nor- 
ton of Goshen in 1808 and in 1810 a patent was obtained 
for the form. He continued till 1844 making cheese from 
his own herd of fifty cows. He then began buying curd 
from other dairies and built what is believed to be the first 
cheese factory in the country. Other factories soon 
started. Norton's son established one in New York State. 
The two made 65,000 to 70,000 pounds as late as 1889. 


Large herds of Durhams and Ayrshires developed in con- 
nection with the cheese industry. 

Up to 1780 making butter and cheese at home were the 
chief branches of dairy industry and cheese formed a 
considerable part of dairy production till near the close 
of the century, in places remote from railroad transporta- 

From Connecticut the cheese industry and dairy farm- 
ing in general was carried to the West. "The Connecticut 
Yankee brought a cheese hoop with him and wherever he 
went made cheese. Western Reserve has continued to be 
the dairy section of the State. There the old home made 
cheese trade developed, there the cheese factory had its 
beginnings, there the creamery had its development, and 
there is now the market milk center of the State." 

Butter Making, Co-operative Creameries. Butter 
was made in families from the beginning and home-made 
butter became an article of trade as soon as the market 
permitted. Thus in 1845 Litchfield County made 1,290,000 
pounds, Hartford and Fairfield Counties almost as much. 
As the trade increased and uniformity and excellence of 
quality became more necessary, there developed the 
creamery system and especially the co-operative creamery. 

The Farmington Creamery, if not the very first, es- 
tablished, was certainly the one which incited the general 
movement. This was organized as a joint stock company 
in 1869-1870 with a capital of $4,000, afterwards in- 
creased to $4,500. In 1871 it received milk from 200 
cows and in 1881 from 750. In 1889 there were five joint 
stock companies and two private creameries within a few 
miles of Farmington and sixty-three in the State. Wapp- 
ing Creamery was organized in 1883, Windsor in 1885. 


In 1889 Lebanon Creamery "sent tons of home-made but- 
ter to Providence," but this became unprofitable and a 
co-operative creamery was estabhshed to make cheese. 
But all the other creameries, it is believed, were engaged 
solely in making and marketing butter, the skim-milk be- 
ing either returned to the farms or in many cases poured 
into the river. 

The advent of the cream gathering system with deep 
setting left the skimmed milk on the farm, paying by the 
"space" of cream was supplanted by testing each patron's 
cream and basing payment on pounds of butter fat de- 
livered. The use of the separator on the farm added to 
the economy of butter production. But the business of 
these creameries became unprofitable and they disap- 
peared as rapidly as they had grown in numbers and im- 
portance. The reason is obvious. Prior to about 1878 the 
consumption of fresh milk in cities and towns was light 
and was supplied within a short radius of farms. At least 
the demand for fresh milk did not anywhere meet the sup- 
ply. The surplus was used for butter making in the 
family, and sold to individuals or to the village store. 

Then came the co-operative creamery as has been noted 
and an increasing demand for high-grade butter. But 
soon came the ruinous western competition in butter and 
the introduction of butter substitutes, which closed the 
butter factories of Connecticut. (In 1889 there were 63 
of them, now only very few remain. ) 

The industry in condensed milk in this country began 
in Litchfield County. A Mr. Gale of Burrville put up 
milk under the first patent for condensing milk and em- 
ploying sugar in the process. The Borden Condensed 
Milk Company, organized in 1863, did business in Win- 
sted until 1866. 


But with the concentration of population in cities and 
with increased attention to sanitation and the importance 
of rational nutrition there has come a greatly increased 
demand for clean fresh milk made under sanitary condi- 
tions, and since 1900 about three-fourths of the milk pro- 
duced has been sold fresh. The production and proper 
marketing of such milk is now the only profitable branch 
of dairy industry. Shipping stations for fresh milk have 
taken the place of creameries, and while very little fresh 
milk is brought into Connecticut approximately twenty- 
five million quarts are yearly shipped from Connecticut 
to neighboring states. 

Milk has also been made a safer food by pasteurization, 
seventy per cent of the fluid milk consumed in the State 
being treated in this way. 

Better still is the production of certified milk from 
tested cows, with all sanitary precautions in the handling 
of the milk under rigid inspection by state officials. 

The manufacture of ice cream, a recent but rapidly 
growing business (there are at least twenty factories of 
good repute in the State), is of great advantage to the 
dairy business by taking up its surplus milk in periods of 

The number of milk cows in the State, over 85,000 in 
1850, was nearly 128,000 in 1890 to 1900, but in 1920 
sharply declined to 112,600, due to reduction of stock 
during the war, but rose in 1923 to 141,000. 

Four inventions have made the present development of 
the milk business possible. The silo is the first, which 
gives a supply of green, succulent feed through the entire 
year and greatly reduces the need of pasture land. The 
practice of ensilaging green fodder is very ancient, but 
its general introduction into dairy practice is very modern. 


In 1870 Goffert published in France a Manual of the Cul- 
ture and Siloing of Maize and other green crops, which 
brought it to general attention and he may be called the 
Father of Modern Silage. The earhest silos in the United 
States were built by Miles in Michigan in 1875 and by 
F. Morris in Maryland in 1876. Their use in this State 
immediately followed. The round silo resulted from the 
work of King in Wisconsin, 1892-1895. In 1882 there 
were less than 100 silos in the United States. It is esti- 
mated that now there are a quarter of a million in use. 

The second, and later invention is the milking machine 
which has greatly reduced the labor requirement. 

The third is the corn harvester which harvests and 
binds the crop, ready to be cut and put into the silo by 
machinery with a further reduction of labor. 

The fourth invention is the Babcock test to determine 
the amount of butter fat in milk as a basis of payment, or 
as a check on adulteration. 

In 1891 this was first used in the State to fix the pay- 
ment for mJlk by its content of butter fat. Soon after, 
it was adopted by the creameries as a basis of payment, 
replacing other systems which gave a chance for dis- 
honesty and discouraged the producers of high quality 
cream. At present it is useful as a test of the quality of 
market milk in the State and as a help to breeders in judg- 
ing of the performance of individual cows. 

The two most insidious and dangerous diseases of dairy 
stock are tuberculosis and infectious abortion. The 
danger to the public and loss to the farmer caused by 
tuberculosis is well understood, but infectious abortion 
causes more loss to the dairyman than is generally known. 

The means of preventing it are now being studied at 
the Storrs Agricultural Station with encouraging results. 


Good progress is now made in ridding the State of tu- 
berculous cattle and of stopping their entry into it. 

As a result of the work of the commissioner of do- 
mestic animals, the dairy commissioner and federal offi- 
cials there are now 1,405 herds, containing 31,764 dairy 
cattle in the State proved to be free from tuberculosis. 
Of these 410 herds, numbering 8,797 head have been 
found free for two years or more. This of course, is only 
a small fraction of the total number of cows in the State, 
but it marks the early stages of a movement to entirely 
wipe out bovine tuberculosis and by so doing to lessen 
the disease in the human race. 

The Sheep Industry. In the nineteenth century 
Connecticut developed an extensive sheep industry, 
brought into the State and country the merino sheep which 
were the foundation of the best flocks everywhere, and 
finally has seen the steady decline of sheep raising almost 
to the vanishing point. 

The introduction of Spanish merino sheep is of special 
interest because it was the work of a Connecticut citizen 
and Connecticut was the center from which this breed 
was distributed, being the foundation of the improved 
Vermont merinos and the American merinos which have 
been of inestimable value to the country. 

It is said that two merino ewes and a ram were sent to 
a gentleman in Cambridge in 1798, which were butchered 
and eaten. In 1801 a merino ram, Dom Pedro, reached 
this country and was used as a sire in New York and 
Delaware. In 1801 Seth Adams imported a merino ram 
and ewe and received a prize from the Massachusetts 
Agricultural Society for the importation of a pair of 
superior breed, But for the establishment of the breed 


on American farms the country is indebted to Gen. David 
Humphreys, diplomatist, poet and farmer. In a discourse 
delivered in 1816, he indulges the hope that ''this acquisi- 
tion of the golden fleece is an event of some importance" 
and that "it will possibly be remembered when I shall be 
no more." He was awarded a gold medal by the Massa- 
chusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture and later 
Connecticut gave him a testimonial in recognition of his 

In 1802, (54), Gen. David Humphrey, U. S. Minister 
at Madrid, retired from office with the close of the Adams 
administration. He had become a special favorite among 
the grandees from some of whom he had acquired a deep 
interest in the Spanish sheep. Being contrary to Ameri- 
can custom he could not accept the present usually be- 
stowed on a departing minister but at his suggestion he 
was tacitly permitted to send a flock of pure blooded 
merinos to his farm at Derby, Conn. This consisted of 
75 ewes and 25 rams, nine animals having died on the 

His farm at once became the center of the wool grow- 
ing interest. 

At first farmers were not greatly interested, but when 
America was shut off from foreign wool the interest in 
wool increased. In 1806 Humphrey was glad to get $300 
for a ram and two ewes. In 1808 he sold a ram for 
$1,000. Crossing merinos with common sheep was found 
to double the shearing of wool. Connecticut became the 
center of a sheep mania and in 1813 there were estimated 
to be 400,000 sheep within the State. From there the 
merino stock was distributed through the sheep raising 
sections of the country. 

In 1810 merino wool sold in Hartford at the following 


prices: Full-bred, $2.75 per pound. Half-bred, $1.00. 
Quarter-bred, 62 cents. 

Regarding the yield per head little data appears. The 
fleece of a pure merino lamb in New Milford, (1810) was 
said to weight nine pounds, the carcass, sixty- three 

In 1824 the Saxon merinos were brought in and largely 

About 1815 the tariff on wool was removed and a de- 
cline in the sheep industry followed, lasting till 1825. 
Then for twenty years the production of fine wool greatly 

In 1840 there were over 400,000 sheep in Connecticut 
(U. S. Census) and a production of nearly 900,000 
pounds of wool. The production steadily decreased from 
that date until, in 1920 there were less than 12,000 sheep 
in the State with a wool production of about 42,000 

In 1810 and 1811, while Spain was at war with 
Napoleon, her flocks were broken up, eaten by ravaging 
armies, stolen by the French and thousands were smug- 
gled through Portugal to England. The Junta, in order 
to get fimds, sold the choicest stock and it is estimated 
that 20,000 full blooded sheep came to America. Most 
of them probably were used for grading up native stock 
rather than for building pure blooded flocks. The prices 
here fell to one-tenth of the prices charged at the height 
of the excitement following their introduction. 

Carding machines for this fine wool were soon found 
in every hamlet and Congress increased the ad valorem 
duty on wool from five to thirty-five per cent. 


Fruit Growing. While the fruit crop was consider- 
able at the close of the preceding century, choice varieties 
were few. Most fruit trees had been raised from seed. 
The apples were of all colors and flavors, but of these 
"native" kinds some were choice and have held their place. 
Thus the Hurlburt, as already noticed, was a Connecticut 
seedling. It is said that the original Northern Spy in New 
York came from seed from Salisbury, Conn. Hadwin 
states that the first variety of apple developed in New 
England was the Rhode Island Greening in Portsmouth, 
R. I. The original tree stood near an ancient tavern 
known, in 1765, as Green's Inn, and for years its fruit 
was called "Green's Inn apple." 

The Roxbury Russet probably originated in Roxbury, 
Mass., soon after the settlement of the country. The first 
settlers at Stonington came from Roxbury in 1649 and 
it is said brought this variety with them. It is undoubt- 
edly the oldest of native sorts. The original Baldwin 
stood in Wilmington, Mass., and was first recognized 
as a favorite fruit about the middle of the eighteenth 

In the early part of the century, James Hillhouse of 
New Haven, (44, Vol. I), received scions from the 
King's gardener in France and grafted 150 varieties of 
apples and 40 of pears. President Dwight of Yale Col- 
lege, early in the century, (24) gives a list of twenty lead- 
ing varieties of apples grown in New England, from which 
fruit may be had in every month of the year except July. 
Gold states that in the early part of the century Pearmain 
and Seeknofurther were common and that the Baldwin 
came into general use later. 

At the beginning of the century the apple product was 
mainly consumed as cider. Soon after, and perhaps in 


consequence of the closing of trade with the West Indies 
which stopped the importation of rum, the manufacture 
of cider brandy developed rapidly. Many farmers in 
Hartford County made 300 to 600 barrels of cider and 
some few 1 ,000 barrels yearly, eight to ten barrels making 
one of brandy. 

There followed a temperance revival which in a few 
years arrested this manufacture. Many cut down their 
orchards and all neglected them. 

The more careful selection and improvement of varie- 
ties of apples probably began about 1835 to 1840. In 
1842 Titus Gaylord of Cheshire had an orchard of 250 
trees of "engrafted" winter apples. Since that time the 
planting of orchards of carefully selected kinds of apples 
has developed into a special agricultural industry. The 
crop seems to have reached a maximum in 1900 with a 
production of 3,708,900 bushels which fell according to 
the Census of 1920 to 1,395,100 bushels. The quality of 
the fruit and the careful grading of it were never so good 
as today. 

The pests which attack orchards are many. The two 
which have proved most injurious are the coddling moth 
and the San Jose scale. The former is everywhere present 
and persistent and must be controlled every year by spray- 
ing. The San Jose scale, brought into the state on nursery 
stock was first found by the botanist of the Agricultural 
Station in 1885. 

It spread rapidly and by 1901 was found in seventy- 
eight places in the State. Many orchards were ruined, 
many others seriously damaged and the whole industry 
threatened with ruin. It was finally controlled by a rigid 
inspection of nursery stock and by the use of sprays. Para- 
sites also developed which destroyed a great deal of the 


scale on neglected wild growth. By 1914 the pest was no 
longer prevalent but lately there has been a fresh de- 
velopment of it. 

Excellent seedling peaches were grown in the State be- 
fore 1800 and long afterwards. Piatt, (18), says that 
about 1840 peaches were as common about our farms as 
apples, and seedling trees 90 or 100 years old were re- 
ported. Later it was believed that the day of peaches was 
past for trees lived hardly long enough to give a single 

In the Seventies peach growing was at its lowest ebb ; 
yet between 1845 and 1875 there were at least thirty or- 
chards in the State, one in Southington of twenty acres. 
In 1893 Piatt estimated that there were about 160,000 
peach trees in the State, about half of them set within the 
last three years. 

Peach "yellows," known as early as 1815, (23, 1845),. 
became very destructive and in 1842, is said to threaten 
the destruction of all peaches. Complaint is also made of 
the "curl." Rareripes, Admirables, Royal Kensington and 
Noblesse are mentioned as popular varieties and probably 
by that time the peach was somewhat generally grown. 

In 1875 J. H. Hale of Glastonbury planted the first 
commercial peach orchard and introduced and greatly 
fostered this branch of farming in the State. 

In 1878 P. M. Augur of Middlefield planted a second 
orchard of 1,500 trees, but because of frost injury the 
first considerable crop of peaches was not gathered until 
1887, and from then on the business rapidly increased. 

The industry has had very serious setbacks, due to in- 
sect and fungus invasions and the vagaries of our winter 
climate, but partly owing to the fact that the Connecticut 
peach is at its best when those from other orchards 


further south are out of market, the business is fairly 
successful. The peak production was in 1914-1915, prob- 
ably 500,000 baskets. Hale states that in 1901 there were 
less than 100,000 peach trees in Connecticut while ten 
years later there were three million. 

This, however, must have been a peach stampede, like 
the '49 rush for gold in California, which quickly sub- 
sided, leaving dead and neglected orchards. 

The perishable small fruits have been grown since the 
early days of the Colony but only became of commercial 
importance late in the century when quick transportation 
and the demands of nearby cities made any considerable 
production profitable. 

Since the passage of the Volstead Act, and in conse- 
quence of it, the growing of grapes in this vState has in- 
creased enormously though there are no statistics to show 
this expansion. 

The Seed-Growing Business. While before the Rev- 
olution some garden seeds were imported from London 
by dealers and ship owners, yet most families saved seed 
of their own raising for their use. The oldest seed firms 
were established in Philadelphia, the first being David 
Landreth, established in 1784. 

The Shaker colony in Enfield probably started late in 
the eighteenth century. 

The Shakers prepared for market medicinal herbs and 
garden seeds and their gardens are said to have been very 
profitable, because their products were everywhere sought, 
being esteemed better than any other. 

They frequently had large orders from Europe for 
medicinal herbs. 

In two sections where vegetables were grown to some 


extent for market the possibility of commercial seed 
growing was recognized. One of these sections was 
Wethersfield. As has been noted, Wethersfield had long 
been a center for onion growing and vegetable gardening. 
Gradually it became a center for seed production rather 
than truck farming. 

The seed business has continued there strong up to the 
present, in spite of the great changes in commercial and 
local conditions. 

The first general seed business in Wethersfield is be- 
lieved to have been started about 1820 by James L. Bel- 
den. It proved to be profitable and in 1838 was sold to 
Franklin G. Comstock and his son William G. Comstock. 

Later W. G. Comstock with Henry Ferre founded 
Comstock, Ferre & Company, incorporated in 1853. For 
86 years the business has been carried on under the Com- 
stock name and for at least 104 years there has been the 
same established business on their property. Other firms 
were later established all of which had a country-wide 
reputation. Thomas Griswold & Company, established in 
1845; Johnson, Robbins & Company, in 1855; William 
Meggat, in 1866; and Hart, Welles & Company, in 1894, 
which was succeeded in 1916 by the Charles C. Hart Seed 

William B. Comstock, a strong, aggressive man, built 
up a fine seed trade in the South, having for a time a 
branch store in New Orleans and he pushed out on the 
frontier in the days when St. Louis, Chicago and Minne- 
apolis were the extreme "West," almost in advance of 
railroads. He seems to have started the commission box 
business. He devised seed bags, with printed cultural 
directions and wax seals, the different colors of which 
represented the year of packing, so that the seeds longest 


viable, cucumbers, beets, etc., could be carried for five 
years and others for shorter periods, depending on the 
duration of their vitality. Comstock laid out the first 
route of his seed wagons, up the Connecticut valley to 
Springfield, Vermont and later they covered New Eng- 
land and parts of Canada and other states. Later he put 
up seeds for the southern trade, shipped to the principal 
cities from Washington to New Orleans. This branch 
of the business was dropped by Comstock, Ferre & Com- 
pany, in 1888 so as to specialize in wholesale trade, but is 
still carried on by the Chas. C. Hart Seed Company of 
Wethersfield, probably the only firm in the State specializ- 
ing in that line. 

Onion growing reached its height in the period from 
1860 to 1885 and for some years represented many 
thousands of dollars in farming operations. 

In less than fifty years seed growing has swung across 
the continent and the Pacific and western states have for 
years been able to produce for a less price, largely be- 
cause of cheaper labor and greater yields with less lia- 
bility of loss from insect pests, storms, etc., and while 
Wethersfield is still a center of a large seed trade, seed 
growing has shrunk to a very moderate amount. The 
secret of the development of an extensive seed business in 
Wethersfield, as in the Milford and Orange region, lies 
in the fact that the men engaged in it were first of all ex- 
tensive vegetable growers who had for years carefully 
selected types of one or more vegetables to secure purity 
and quality, which were recognized as superior and were 
in demand. It was skillful selection and growing, rather 
than selling, which made the great reputation of the place. 

The entire seed trade acknowledges its obligation to 
these growers. 


The foregoing facts are taken from an address to the 
Wethersfield Business Men's Association in 1916 by Mr. 
S. F. Willard. 

The other seed growing and seed trade center of the 
State is the region of Milford and Orange and in the town 
of Westport where onion seed as well as onions were at 
one time extensively raised. 

Seed growing as a business was perhaps practiced here 
in the Forties. 

In 1857 E. B. Clark of Milford, succeeded by the 
Everett B. Clark Seed Company, began the seed trade in- 
dustry in that section of the State, and inaugurated the 
growing of sweet corn seed as a business. S. D. Wood- 
ruff of Orange, succeeded by S. D. Woodruff & Sons, 
were also prominently engaged in both growing and 
trading in seed. 

There followed a great expansion of the business, but 
since 1880 the business has followed the same course as 
in Wethersfield, viz., great shrinkage in seed production, 
while the trade in seeds has increased. 

A considerable number of varieties of seeds is still 
grown in Connecticut, largely in the Milford and Orange 
districts, several of which are not grown elsewhere of as 
high quality, namely onions, beets, and sweet corn. The 
Connecticut sweet corn seed is in demand as "stock" 
seed from regions in the West and South, where home- 
grown seed degenerates in a few years and fresh stock 
must be introduced. 

For the two seed trade centers sweet corn seed is grown 
in various parts of the State and it is in large demand from 
the canneries of the country for it is a surer crop here 
than in the canning districts, besides being of superior 


Probably 1,200 acres are planted at present to sweet 
corn for seed, very little to onions and perhaps 75,000 
pounds of beet seed of exceptionally fine quality are yearly 
grown in the State. 

Vegetable Growing, a very profitable farming indus- 
try in the earlier part of the nineteenth century, did not 
apparently meet much serious competition from other 
states until the last quarter of the century. As early as 
1 847 a small quantity of lettuce, radishes, mint and straw- 
berries were brought to New York from the South, but in 
the spring of 1885 the first all-rail shipment of Southern 
garden truck came to New York. 

In the Eighties also came the first car loads of oranges 
from Florida and strawberries in large quantities. At 
present not only are the more solid fruits and vegetables 
brought into Connecticut from other states but also the 
very perishable things, like lettuce, asparagus and spinach 
from the far south fill our markets at certain seasons. 

In spite of outside competition, however, the production 
and sale of strictly fresh vegetables for our home market, 
seems likely to be an enduring business. 

Potatoes were said to have been raised in the western 
part of the State in 1802 (58), from seed balls, the second 
or third year from the ball. 

About 1842 (20, III), potatoes were a principal crop 
in Greenwich. The average yield was 200 bushels per 
acre and they were shipped to New York. For many years 
Greenwich sent more potatoes to New York than all the 
other coast towns of Connecticut and they made Green- 
wich the richest town in the State in proportion to its 

The Census of 1840 reports a larger yield of potatoes 


than in any decade except 1900 and the production has 
fallen from about three and a half million bushels in that 
year to less than half that amount in 1920. 

Poor seed and a number of rather obscure plant dis- 
eases account in large part for the decline. 

Onions. These were at first grown wholly as a vege- 
table and Wethersfield became the center of the business 
in the eighteenth century. 

In 1823 Dwight reports that the growing of onions 
there is still profitable but not so extensively practiced as 
earlier because of competition. 

Gradually the business shifted to onion seed production 
as noted elsewhere. 

Later onion growing became extensive in the Fairfield 
region, being specially profitable during the Civil War 
when the "Southport Globe" was raised and sold for ten 
dollars a barrel. It was the best keeping variety ever put 
on the market. Probably 100,000 barrels were raised 
there in the war time. In 1871, onions are reported as 
the chief crop in Westport and Southport, yielding an 
average of 500 bushels per acre and the highest recorded 
yield, 900 bushels. 300,000 to 500,000 bushels were yearly 
raised in that town. In 1885, a tract six miles square in 
Westport grew 80,000 barrels of onions which was only 
two-thirds of a normal crop. 

Soon after, the price of onions fell greatly. The white 
onion was more in demand and was extensively grown. 
But the difficulty of keeping them, the prevalence of fun- 
gous diseases, labor scarcity and a great rise in real es- 
tate values together nearly extinguished the onion grow- 
ing business. 

Tomatoes were scarcely grown in the State until the 


second quarter of the nineteenth century, T. S. Gold re- 
ports that in 1830 he planted tomatoes in his flower gar- 
den in Goshen and got an abundant crop. They were 
called "love apples" and he was told that "they eat them in 
France" — no one in Goshen did. They are now very ex- 
tensively grown in the State, both for marketing and for 

Tobacco is the one crop which has shown steadily in- 
creased production from the begiiming of the century to 
the present. For the last fifty years at least it has met 
with serious competition from Florida and Georgia, and 
from Sumatra (since 1881), but in spite of this it has 
almost constantly held its place as a superior grade of 
leaf for cigar wrappers. Its growth, rather general 
through the State in the earlier years, afterwards became 
limited to the light, sandy soils of the northern Connecti- 
cut valley and to the somewhat stronger soils of the 
Housatonic valley. On such soils alone can tobacco be 
grown which has the qualities required by the trade for 
cigar wrappers or binders; the only uses to which it is 
adapted. In 1840 the production was 235.8 tons, in 1920 
2109.6 tons, a nine-fold increase. 

Prior to 1801 not more than ten tons of tobacco were 
grown in Connecticut yearly, and was mostly shipped to 
the West Indies in hogsheads. The growers got from 
$3.00 to $3.33 per hundredweight. This was a narrow, 
so-called "shoestring" tobacco. About that time plug and 
twist tobacco were made in East Windsor, (at first by a 
Mrs. Prout from Virginia), and also cigars, known as 
"paste" cigars and later as "long nines" or "Windsor par- 
ticulars." (68, 1856).'^ 

23 Col. Israel Putnam, of Wolf Den fame, is credited with the introduc- 
tion of cigars into Connecticut. It is said that he went as Lieut. Col. of the 


In 1810 factories were established in East Windsor 
and Siiffield which also used both Spanish and Connecti- 
cut tobacco in their cigars and peddled them through the 
country from wagons. 

About 1824-1825 a packing house was established and 
the leaf, in bales of 100 pounds, (another writer says 400 
pounds ) , were enclosed in boards on four sides with the 
ends exposed. 

Till 1833 "shoestring" tobacco was grown. But about 
this time a broadleaf strain was brought by B. P. Bar- 
bour of East Windsor, from Maryland, which was far 
l)etter suited to cigar manufacture, by its shape, texture 
and neutral flavor. The somewhat careful sorting of the 
leaf before sale began about 1840. 

The first tobacco was grown in the Housatonic valley, 
at Kent, in 1845 and soon after in New Milford. By 
1870 it became a leading product. 

In 1890 tobacco was first grown under shade in this 
State by the Connecticut Agricultural Station and the sta- 
tion also introduced witji it the method for the rapid fer- 
mentation of the leaf in bulk instead of in cases. Both 
practices immediately gained favor and in 1893, 645 
acres were grown under shade in the Connecticut valley. 

Then, owing to lack of experience in curing and fer- 
mentation and the use of unselected "Sumatra" seed, the 
raising of shade tobacco suffered eclipse and the acreage 
of the next three years ran from 40 to 70 acres, but 
rapidly increased with increased skill in raising and hand- 
ling the crop to 6,100 acres in 1918, the larger part of it 

first Connecticut regiment in the expedition against Havana in 1762. Shortly- 
after its capture, while on a scouting expedition, he saw nearly every native 
smoking a big, roughly rolled cigar. A trial of them so pleased him that 
Tie brought home a quantity, "as much as three donkeys could pack". Later 
he kept a tavern in Pomf ret and distributed his cigars which soon became 
very popular. 


in Connecticut. The shaded tobacco under favorable con- 
ditions commands a much higher price than that grown 
in the open. In 1924 the acreage was 5250. 

In 1856, (43, Vol. I), an effort was made to induce 
growers to put their crops in a general warehouse in or- 
der to rid themselves of the speculative system of buying 
and selling. 

It was claimed that in the three years during which it 
had been practiced, on a limited scale, growers had got 
from 50 to 75 per cent more for their crop than had been 
obtained from "speculators," and had also raised the 
speculators' prices. Apparently an organization was ef- 
fected which continued for some years. How much it 
actually accomplished or how long a course it ran, does 
not seem to have been recorded. 

In the fall of 1922 The Connecticut Valley Tobacco 
Association was formed, its members binding themselves 
for five years to sell to the Association all of the tobacco 
raised by or for them. It operates 104 warehouses, grades 
all the tobacco from its members, sells it and as sales are 
made pays the members according to the grading of their 
crop, after paying the expenses of the organization. At 
present it controls 87 per cent of the acreage of New Eng- 
land tobacco which is grown in the open. 

Corn. We have seen that maize was the staple crop 
and staple cereal food of the settlers in the seventeenth 
century. Gradually wheat displaced it, at first only among 
the more prosperous in the centers. 

But baked in thin cakes, forerunner of the "hoe cake" 
of the South, cooked as "hasty pudding," with molasses 
as a sauce, later made into bread with rye ("rye and 
Injin"), corn meal was widely used in the country in the 


eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and now, while 
it has almost passed as a family food, it has not passed 
from some of us as a not unpleasant boyhood memory. 

We have also noticed that corn has become a chief 
reliance of dairymen to make good the lack of pasturage 
in summer and to provide a succulent food in the long 
winters. While the silo did not come into general use 
before 1880, the value of the corn plant for fodder was 
understood long before. A writer in the "Connecticut 
Courant" in 1821 calls attention to corn fodder and claims 
that, properly cured, it is as good as hay. He cuts it when 
it is about ready to spindle and cuts it high enough so that 
it will "spread again" and give a second crop. 

The production of the grain increased steadily since 
1840 till 1909. 

The yield in 1919, 2,062,495 bushels, was 468,000 
bushels less than in the preceding census, and may be ex- 
plained by a poor season and in part by the larger produc- 
tion of wheat after the war. This larger production of 
shelled corn includes a very considerable amount of sweet 
corn seed shipped out of the State to canneries and seed 

Rye and Oats. The crop of oats, which in 1840 nearly 
equalled that of corn, has steadily declined to the present 

The production of rye, always grown in smaller amount 
than oats, has likewise steadily declined, though it is still 
used quite extensively as a cover crop and green manure. 

Wheat. Connecticut has never been a considerable 
grain producing State. Even in the eighteenth centur}' its 
wheat supply was drawn largely from New York and 


Pennsylvania, and after 1850 the "golden West" almost 
monopolized the business. Yet the State has been slow to 
quite abandon the growing of wheat. Thus in 1845 a 
writer in the "Cultivation" says that more or less wheat 
has been grown on his farm in Cheshire for forty-five 
years, and the crop was a failure not more than three times 
in this period. For the fifteen years since he has owned the 
farm there has been no insect injury. His wheat runs 62 
pounds to the bushel. 

As late as 1871 wheat growing was not uncommon. 
Thus 100 acres were grown in Westport, with an average 
yield of 30 bushels per acre. 

Greenwich at the same time reported that the majority 
of farmers raised enough to supply them with bread. 

It is interesting to note that in the financial crash of 
IS36-37 so wide a ruin of wheat was wrought by the Hes- 
sian fly that more than 1,360,000 bushels of wheat were 
imported into this country from Europe. 

From 1850 to 1880 38,000 to 50,000 bushels of wheat 
were yearly raised in Connecticut. Then the production 
fell to about 7,000, 9,000 and 12,000 bushels in the three 
following decades, but rose to 50,000 bushels in 1919, a 
larger crop than at any time since 1840. This was a war 
time emergency. Very many farmers raised satisfactory 
crops of wheat and found that on good land a yield of 40 
bushels per acre was quite possible. 

With the great increase in poultry keeping, it is not 
likely that wheat growing will immediately fall to the 
pre-war basis. It is quite likely that to supply feed for 
poultry and for dairy stock it may find a place with profit 
in farm rotations. 


Hemp. As has been noted, hemp was grown from the 
early days, being encouraged by bounties. About 1810 
it seems to have been quite successful on the fertile banks 
of the Connecticut River and on warm uplands. 

Long Meadow, just over the Massachusetts line (19. 
1810), is stated to have sold the year's crop in Boston, 
New Haven and New York for $35,000. Three to twelve 
hundred pounds per acre could be raised, and it was 
quoted at $412 per ton in Boston, but $200 was a fair 
price when trade with Russia was open. Dwight says 
(24, Vol. I). "Hemp has lately excited the attention in 
earnest. At Long Meadow and at Enfield, Conn., and at 
some other places in the neighborhood, it grows luxuri- 
antly and is undoubtedly the most profitable crop that can 
be raised." In 1804 the General Assembly put a bounty 
of $10 a ton on domestic hemp or flax which was later 
repealed. But as late as 1829 land on which hemp was 
raised was exempt from taxation. 

Probably the business never attained any great vol- 
ume. The census of 1860 reports the Connecticut produc- 
tion of hemp as three tons, and it is not reported later. 

Flax was widely grown in this State in the first quar- 
ter of the century and in some places in rather large 
amount, both for the fiber and for the seed. Thus in 1802 
Milford raised 100,000 pounds of flax and 4,000 bushels 
of flax seed. In 1807 (36. II) Fairfield exported about 
20,000 bushels of flax seed a year, and later more flax was 
grown there than in the whole of New England beside 
(24, III) . The average crop of flax was about 200 pounds 
with 6-S bushels of seed. 

In 1810 (9), while flax in the country exceeded both 
wool and cotton as textile fibers, it was not suited to New 


England conditions because of the labor and fertilization 
required, but as it was needed for the making of tow 
cloth and linen, a small area on the farm was generally 
planted to flax, until about the middle of the century, and 
by 1880 the growing of flax had practically ceased in 
this State. 

The course of Connecticut farming since about 1880 
and its present condition have been admirably set forth 
by Prof. I. G. Davis of the Connecticut Agricultural Col- 
lege in the "Agricultural College Review," March, 1924. 

What follows is chiefly an abstract of his conclusions : 

During the last forty years, in the rapid changes in 
economic conditions, Connecticut agriculture has been 
forced to continual readjustment to meet these conditions. 
This has resulted in more intense methods of farming 
and elimination of the less productive and more remote 
farm lands. 

"Our agriculture of forty years ago was a livestock in- 
dustry, based on hay and pasture." These are crops re- 
quiring a broad acreage. But when the seemingly ex- 
haustless, fertile lands of the West were opened, wool, 
mutton and beef, easily produced and easily carried or 
driven to shipping points, was brought to market at prices 
with which Connecticut farmers, with small fields and 
brush pastures, could not compete and make a living. So 
these lines of farming had to be given up, and, as in every 
other business, changed conditions had to be met by 
changed methods and changed production. 

The extensive production of beef, sheep and dairy man- 
ufactures (cheese and butter) was therefore gradually 
abandoned. But these are hay- and grass-consuming in- 
dustries requiring extensive acreage, and their abandon- 
ment inevitably caused the decrease by more than one- 


half in improved farm acreage. The use of motor ve- 
hicles for local transportation instead of horses accounts 
for a further reduction in hay acreage. 

What has been the result ? 

1. The production of livestock products, which are 
easily transported (meats, wool, butter and low-grade 
eggs) has rapidly declined, while the production of things 
which, because of extreme perishability, can be produced 
only where they can reach the consumer quickly, in per- 
fect condition, has increased. Fresh milk and high-grade 
eggs, produced for local market, show this decided in- 
crease. Dairying does not require extensive pasture land. 
Grain feeding, the use of soiling crops and the extensive 
use of corn silage are substitutes for grazing land. The 
fact that corn is the only food crop which has not declined 
but actually increased since 1880, is explained by its ex- 
tensive use in dairy feeding. 

2. The growing of cash crops which have a high weight 
per unit of value, such as hay for sale, potatoes and cab- 
bage, declined during the period. 

Low freight rates tended to discourage raising them 
here, but the higher freight rates now prevailing may 
bring them in again. There are signs of this revival helped 
by better methods of production which the Agricultural 
College is introducing. 

3. An advance has been made in raising crops in which 
we have distinct soil, climatic or seasonal advantages, 
which enables us to more than meet the quality or prices 
of our competitors. Such are tobacco, sweet corn (for 
immediate consumption or for seed), apples, peaches and 
perhaps tomatoes. Thus the production of tobacco has 
increased three-fold since 1880. Peach orchards have 
been almost entirely developed in the last forty years. The 


farm apple orchard has been slowly dying, but the busi- 
ness apple orchard, with modern methods of production 
and marketing, is making sound and consistent progress, 
and the outlook is very promising. 

4. Growing extremely perishable cash crops, in which 
the marketing expense of competitors is very high, due to 
distance and perishability, certain vegetables for instance, 
is increasing. It may be added that the more enlightened 
taste of consumers will be a help to this industry. 

They are learning that slightly wilted vegetables are 
better fitted for cattle than for the "home circle," and 
that sweet corn, after twenty-four hours' keeping, may 
serve for "roughage," but is not a delicacy. 

Now, what has been the result as shown by statistics ? 
Does it justify the opinion so often expressed, that Con- 
necticut agriculture is ready to perish, or at least is con- 
tinuing in a dead-and-alive condition ? 

Prof. Davis, who has had exceptional opportunity to 
study the question, makes the following statements : 

"Even when all corrections have been made for the 
fluctuations of the dollar for the past forty years, Con- 
necticut agriculture shows a five-fold increase in the value 
of its products per acre, and a three-fold increase of the 
value of the products per farm, and the total value of the 
products of the State has doubled. Specifically, the in- 
crease in the value of the products of the farm since 1880 
has been from $10 per acre to $48.60 per acre, and the 
value of products per farm from $540 to $3,100." ^* 

The average Connecticut farm is producing somewhat 
more than the average in the United States. 

Prophecy regarding business ventures is futile. Faith 
in the future, based on the. record of the past, which is 

** Changed by E. H. J. to prices as per commodity index, (1913-100) 


the sentiment of the legend on the seal of this State, is 
reasonable, and necessary to success. 

'There certainly has never been a time within sixty 
years," says Prof. Davis, "when the opportunity for a 
man with the right training and character, to farm with 
the prospect of getting a good income and attaining a 
high standard of life for himself and his family is as 
^ood as it is today." 



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University of